LI B R.ARY
Of ILLI NOIS
BY THE AUTHOR OS
If thou do ill ; the joy fades, not the pains :
If well } the pain doth fade, the joy remains.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.
His easv nature ; took him when his heart
Was soften'd by their blandishments.
They wrought him to their purposes I
MOBB's SACILED DSaMaS.
Two years had passed away since that
summer whose bright sunshine saw Lady
Flora and Lucy's wedding-days. Two yeai*s !
It seemed a lonoj time to look foi'ward, but
it soon ghded by. Spring flowers put forth
their pm'e and lovely blossoms, faded and
died; simimer roses tilled the air vrith their
perfume and passed away ; the long grass
grew, and the mowers scythe went over it ;
the swallows made their nests beneath the
VOL. III. B
2 LUCY AYLMER.
portico of the old Manor House, watched
their young, then emigrated again to southern
shores. The bells of St. Walburga rang
marriage peals and funeral knells ; old men
were carried to their rest beneath the silent
yew, and infants were brought to the font
in baptism ; and the weeks went spinning,
Time had made a few changes in Forsted;
but Squire Neville was still the same.
No grey yet sprinkled his brown hair ; his
cheek still wore its ruddy hue, and he
rode his swift horse and tally-hoed after
the hounds with all his wonted zest. Maude
had grown handsomer, more brilliant ; but
continued as light-hearted and careless as
of old. Augusta Neville abode at the
Manor — that was one change. Another was
at Castle St. Agnes. Poor old mansion, its
pride and glory seemed departed ; closed
shutters and empty rooms gave it a most
dismal appearance ; and the ancient house-
keeper, and her few maidens professed to lead
a solitary life. All the family were abroad,
and had not been near St. Agnes since the
day after Lady Flora's departure, when the
LUCY AYLMER. 3
Countess had left suddenly, ordering the
greater part of the furniture, ornaments and
pictures to be sent to the Hall in Essex,
rebuilt for their use, but now, like Castle St.
St. Walburga's bells rang a great deal —
for every saint had his especial day kept, and
St. Walburga's priest did strange things
during the ser\ice, not mentioned in the
Prayer-book, which some folks liked and
some grumbled at. Ever bright, serene and
changeless, was the little wife at the Par-
sonage gate, on a July evening, wearing a
plain white dress and some wild flowers
wreathed in and out her fair hair — holding
on one arm a bright, sunny child, while with
her right hand she pushed open the gate and
looked down the lane, with its shady over-
hanging trees and clear rippling pond at the
end. There was a delicious fragrance of new-
mown hay in the air, and some nightingales
were singing and answering each other's song
The little wife seemed very happy, and
laughed at her baby, and shook flowers in his
face, which the bright one year old boy
4 LUCY AYLMER.
crowed and snatched at with all his might.
After a little w^hile, Lucy shut the gate and
sauntered out into the lane, and culled wild
flowers and threw them over her baby's little
fair, shining head, who opened wide his
bright blue eyes in the extent of his glee, and
looked vastly like the Squire. Numbers of
bright moths flew past, and swarms of knats
which Lucy flapped away with the flowers —
there was a lovely evening glow over every-
thing, and the old w^eather-cock on the church-
spire, glittered like gold. Hay-makers and
farming men slowly plodded home from their
work, making respectful bows to Lucy, and
smiling as they passed at the pretty child,
who looked back at them over her shoulder.
Lucy stopped to one old man, very bent and
aged, and spoke kindly and familiarly to him ;
and she put the baby's soft fair hand in his
hard wrinkled one. The old man was llobbins,
the Manor House gardener.
When Lucy turned away from him, she
suddenly caught sight of a well-known figure
in the distance, and calHng merrily, " Harry
look — there's papa !" hurried nimbly along to
Robert dusty and tired, and making use
of his walking-stick, brightened up when he
saw the white Httle figure coming towards
him, and forgot his long walk when her voice
greeted him, her lips pressed his, and the rosy
little Harry was taken in his arms, danced,
caressed — and then with his httle wife linked
to his arm, the country parson went to his
home, happy on that July eve.
" Have you any news to tell me, Robert ?"
Lucy asked as they went along.
" Nothing of any moment. Your uncle is
canvassing most actively, and giving dinners
by the dozen."
"Do you think he will get in ?"
" He has every chance of success. When-
ever did you know him fail in any under-
" I hope he will succeed for poor Flora's
sake. Did you hear anything of her when you
were in London ?"
" I saw her, my dear, in her very elegant
barouche, driving towards the Park."
" How did she look ?"
" Her costume was surpassingly elegant ;
but if you ask after personal looks — she more
b LUCY AYLMER.
resembled a dressed-up dead creature, than
Lucy sighed deeply.
" She did not see me/' Robert went on. " I
was crossing Bond Street, and on the opposite
side strangely enough, at the same moment,
Lord Glendowan was passing — you should
have seen his look as he bowed to her — the
most unfeigned pity ! I did not watch Plora ;
but I should think she has lived long enough
to repent bitterly her rejection of that good-
" Do you imagine Uncle Archer is kinder to
her now ?"
" Lady Tyrrell called him a * brute,' in
speaking to me. So you may draw your own
Lucy shuddered. "He so soon changed
towards her ; yet he loved her so deeply at
first. I am sure that was not feigned."
"My dear Lucy, you do not understand
the whole thing. In the first place, your
Uncle has a vile temper of his own : he never
showed it to his sister. I think he stood in
awe of her ; but was there ever a better person
on whom to vent all his humours, than his
LUCY AYLMER. /
wife — a weak-minded, complaining creature.
Everything that goes wrong is sure to be
visited on her ; and instead of showing some
independent spirit, she implores and caresses ;
and finally, when this fails, she goes off into
fits of misery, and keeps her room for days,
until she is dragged out rouged and decorated,
to do the noble lady for him at some dinner
either at home or abroad."
"What a dreadful life!"
" Still it is true ; and in the second place,
he is disappointed. In marrying into the
family of De Walden, he expected to mount
on their greatness ; instead of which the Lady
Flora Erresford's friends refused to visit the
Lady Flora Tyrrell ; and her family showed
pride enough to make the man hate the whole
" But still. Uncle Archer had such a wide
circle of his own. It surely might have con-
'* Nothing would satisfy his ambition. If
he could possess the whole world, he would,
like Alexander, sit down and weep, because
there was no more to win. The fact is, your
Uncle aimed too high. He fancied he would
8 LUCY AYLMER.
rise on his wife's rank, and she was just the
very woman to be retiring and shrinking,
instead of pushing into, and seeking those
circles to which, by her birth, she was
" It is an unhappy story," said Lucy ; " and
yet some persons, who cannot see behind the
scenes, would envy Flora's position."
" Cecil is in a great state of mind about
her. I never knew him so indignant."
" Because of her marriage, Robert ?"
" No, not he ! Provided a man is a gen-
tleman, and honourable, and right-minded, he
never cares about rank. But no fellow likes to
see his sister so bullied and trampled on. I
know I should not."
" It must be a great drawback to his
pleasure in returning home. How does he
" Oh ! he is a glorious fellow — better and
handsomer than all the world beside ! He
asked many questions about you and his
godson, and sent remembrances and messages
" And has Lord De Walden benefited by
his long absence ?"
LUCY ATLMER. 9
" I assure you, my dear, he has become
quite reasonable and agreeable, only he rather
bored me with American anecdotes. He spoke
in glowing terms of his brother when Cecil
was out of the way, and told me he owed to
Erresford his restoration of mind and body."
" Good Cecil !" exclaimed Lucy.
" A-propos of good folks, I met Mostyn in
the course of my London rambles — he talks of
coming here for a few weeks. Noble fellow !
he always reminds me of St. Augustine, or
one of the early fathers of the church."
Lucy made no remark, and Robert continued:
" I wish Lucy, darling, you liked him
" I should respect him if he were a Roman
Catholic," said Lucy gravely.
" That is bigotry, Lucy bird. He is a noble
son of the Anglican Church ; and long may he
continue in it."
" But, dear Robert, if he were only less
narrow-minded and less rigid in his doctrines ?"
" Narrow-minded ! why, Lucy, his mind is
capable of grasping the universe !" Robert
" Oh ! I know he is very clever. I did not
10 LUCY AYLMER.
mean that, but then he has no spirit of
toleration except towards CathoUcs."
" You do not understand him, Lucy, or you
would appreciate him as highly as I do."
" He is so different from Cecil," Lucy said
" It is possible to admire extremes, Lucy.
The only fault in Cecil is, that his views are too
Lucy looked puzzled.
" Do not look so solemn, little Lu. Cecil
and you might be stauncher members of the
Anglican Church, that is all I meant to infer ;
but that will come by and bye, when old
familiar prejudices are worn off."
" I do not think mine ever will be, Robert
dear," said Lucy smiling.
" Well, never mind about that now. When
Mostyn comes, we will waive controversies for
your sake, dear little woman !"
Robert opened the gate, and Lucy skipped
across the lawn, forgetting her Anglican mem-
bership, in the delights of surprising Robert
with some improvements she had been making
in his study, during his absence. Robert
pronounced her the " best httle wife in the
LUCY AYLMER. 11
world !" and happily they sat down to take
tea in the sunny parlour, with its glass-doors
open, letting in a perfume of jessamine and
honeysuckle, with which the verandah was
The weeks glided by very smoothly with
Lucy. Maude and she were as much together
as before her marriage, and the Squire played
con amore his part of grandpapa to the
vicarage baby. The child was a ludicrous
likeness of himself, and though named " Harry
Cecil/' after Robert's father and Erresford,
the Squire persisted in calling him " Little
Phil," to the no small amusement of Maude.
The Squire's economical resolutions had
soon vanished — his old habits were too deeply
rooted to be eradicated, and he hunted and
betted with all his former gusto, encouraged,
though under a semblance of regret, by his
brother, from whom he had been compelled to
borrow another loan, and thus had the
mortgage become heavier over the old house
At first, Maude had been troubled by
this ; but she never mentioned her anxiety to
Lucy, and not having Cecil near to give her
VOL. HI. B 4
12 LUCY AYLMER.
warning and advice, her light-heartedness soon
made her forget it, on the plan of the old
proverb — " What can't be cured, &c."
It was on one of her father's hunting
mornings, shortly after the conversation
between Robert and Lucy, just related, that
Maude came in to see Lucy, whom she found
busily engaged in the domestic occupation
of preparing fruit for preserving. Maude
threw off her bonnet and gloves, and com-
menced helping her sister, seating herself on
the floor, with a series of baskets around her.
" I say, little Lu, I came in this morning
especially to condole with you," Maude
" About what, my dear girl ? I was not
aware I needed condolence," said Lucy,
"I declare Lucy, you are a philosopher.
Robert told me yesterday evening, when I
encountered the young man in the fields, that
he is about to inflict on you the society of
that attenuated morsel of holiness — Hubert
" Did he say that ?" exclaimed Lucy.
" He did not use my form of speech, of
LUCY AYLMER. 13
course ; but he gave me to understand the holy
brother meditates a descent on your retire-
"You must come and help me entertain
" My very dear little child, I came with the
express purpose of desiring you to hoist a
handkerchief from the top window in intima-
tion of his arrival, that I may avoid the house .
Let black be the signal of his presence — white
of his departure ; then T shall return in peace,
and learn a detailed account of the miseries
inflicted on you during his residence at the
"Now, Maude, it will be very shabby of
you if you desert me — you have no idea how
difficult he is to entertain. Everything seems
to go wrong when he is here, and he walks
about with his eyes cast down, that he is per-
Maude laughed merrily. " He will be
falling over poor little Harry, and crushing
" Oh ! I shall be obhged to send Harry up
to you, for he cannot endure children."
" The wretch !" exclaimed Maude ; " and if
14 LUCY AYLMER.
the truth were told, I do not think he feels
much love for you."
" He thinks Robert did wrong in marrying,"
" No doubt ; the gentleman wanted to add
another to the class ' fools/ to which he him-
self belongs," Maude said in a comical
" He always had an eye to Robert for St.
Margaret's brotherhood," Lucy answered; " he
told Robert so one day."
" If I had been Mrs. Robert, instead of
you, you meek httle thing — I should just have
made St. Hubert acquainted with my senti-
ments on the subject."
" He never attends to what women say — he
regards us as a species of nonenity."
" Nasty creature ! I think I shall come
every day and tease him, till I have made his
life so wretched, that he speedily departs. No,
a better thought has struck me. I know he
eschews matrimony — I will pretend to be
vastly in love with him !" Maude jumped
up in her glee, and overturning a basket of
gooseberries, sent them rolling about the
LUCY AYLMER. ]5
Lucy laughed brightly at Maude's disaster,
and refused to assist her in her perambula-
tions over the carpet in search of the truant
" That comes of making fun of my husband's
friend," said Lucy. " I really am ashamed of
" I like it," repHed Maude. " You may
depend, if my husband brings home friends
without my approval, I shall not spare my
criticisms. But then I never shall arrive at
being such a piece of propriety as you are !
When does St. Hubert make his appear-
" To-morrow afternoon. Robert goes to
Branstone to meet him."
" I am going to try a new horse to-morrow ;
and I might as well ride through Branstone
as in any other direction. The meeting will
be worth seeing."
" Oh ! don't, Maude ! It is very wicked of
you !" said Lucy, trying not to laugh.
" I cannot help it, my dear, if it is ; and I
shall come in my most killing dress to-morrow
evening and take tea with you. I shall
count on being regaled with strawberries and
" Oh ! to-morrow is Friday ; and Mr.
Mostyn always fasts. Breakfast is his only
" Miserable young man !" exclaimed Maude,
throwing up her hands. " Well, never mind,
I will make him break through his rules."
" Oh, Maude ! don't do anything absurd for
Robert's sake," said Lucy, anxiously.
" Let me alone, Lu. If we do not expose
the young man's foUies, we shall have Robert
plunging into the fraternity himself."
" Oh, dear ! Maude ! what dreadful nonsense
you talk ! You will be dubbing me a sister
next ; and then what is to become of Harry ?"
" A future brother ! Let me see, was there
ever a saint Harry in the calendar ?" Here
Maude spied the child in the garden with his
nurse, and darted out to have some gambols
with him on the lawn. Lucy went on quietly
and diligently with her household duties, that
she might be able to give her undivided at-
tention to her husband's guest when he arrived.
True to his time, the four o'clock train depo-
sited Hubert Mostyn at Branstone. True to
her playful threat, Maude mounted on a
beautiful horse, rode by the station, just
LUCY AYLMER. 17
as the attenuated, bent form of the young
devotee was entering a fly. ]\Iaude drew up
her horse, spoke saucily to Robert, shook
hands with ]\lostyn, made friendly enquiries
after his health, regretted seeing him look so
ill. Then, with an au revoir till the evening,
when she counted on the pleasure of meeting
again, she rode on, with a speed that astonished
her groom, who was lost in amazement at
" that there rum gentleman."
Little Lucy Aylmer was ready to receive
Hubert on his arrival, having* banished her
baby to the care of the Miss Perkins, who had
carried " Master Aylmer" triumphantly off to
spend the evening at the farm. Good Lucy !
at the expense of her own pleasure, she
determined Hubert's first evening should not
be disturbed by little Harry's presence. She
greeted Hubert kindly, then hastened to have
a sumptuous tea spread beneath the elms on
the lawn, hoping he would forget to fast that
day. Every imaginable country dainty her
thoughtfulness could devise, she prepared and
placed with her own hands, and decorated
with flowers to tempt the frail-looking guest,
whose coming she had dreaded, but whose
18 LUCY AYLMER.
first appearance called forth all the pitying
feelings of that tender heart ; and she formed
numberless plans for his comfort and happi-
ness, trusting that his visit might bring a httle
bloom into his hollow, pallid cheeks, and some
vigour into his form. He spent the two first
hours after his arrival in Robert's study ; and
when the bustle of preparation was over,
Lucy sat patiently at the tea-table in her
snowy white dress ornamented with a bou-
quet of blue nemophida, awaiting their arrival.
But Maude was before them, and her roguish
eyes danced with glee as she recounted to
Lucy her afternoon's rencontre. She was
dressed with unusual care — in a pink and
white dress, a wreath of ivy round her dark
hair. She told Lucy she had passed a whole
hour studying head-dresses ; and ivy made
the most effect.
Lucy was still admiring her beautiful sister,
when Hubert Mostyn and her husband crossed
the lawn. Maude rose ; welcomed Hubert to
Forsted ; and, after watching where he would
choose his place, established herself by his
side. Robert looked rather uncomfortable ; and
Hubert Mostyn devoutly fixed his large eyes
LUCY AYLMER. 19
on the ground, with the resolute determi-
nation of not noticing the beautiful girl by
Lucy dispensed tea and sweet smiles, and
joined with Maude in pressing her home-made
deUcacies on the self-denying brother ; but
not one morsel would he touch, though he
looked fainting from his long fast. Lucy
was so distressed, that actually the tears stood
in her soft eyes ; and she was just beginning
to hope he would not fall ill at the vicarage,
and wonder if the Miss Perkins were taking
good care of her baby, when the gate across
the lawn swung to. Maude gave an ex-
clamation of surprise, while the colour mounted
up to her high forehead. With rapid strides,
Cecil Erresford crossed the lawn after his
long absence, looking so handsome and manly,
that, as he passed Mostyn to greet the little
wife, the brother of St. Margaret's seemed
crushed beneath the weight of his shadow.
Cecil looked around beamingly upon them
all ; begged them not to disturb their happy
circle ; and when all the greetings were gone
through, he sat down amongst them. He
seemed much pleased to find himself there
20 LUCY AYLMER.
again ; and not even Hubert's automaton
presence disconcerted him. Maude entirely-
abandoned her meditated flirtation * with
Robert's friend, and relapsed into what
was, for her, great quietude; until Cecil
turned and related peculiarly to her a
number of Yankee anecdotes, when all
her vivacity returned. And Hubert Mos-
tyn was heard to sigh — perhaps over his
own youth's brightness which had fled and
gone for ever, crushed by the false auste-
rities of his life. Suddenly, Cecil looked
around, and asked Lucy where she kept
"In exile!" replied Maude, "Lu, letme
go and fetch him."
Lucy looked at Hubert appealingly; but
those large grey eyes rested ever on the
" Mr. Mostyn, my sister has imbibed an
idea that you do not like children," Maude
began, in spite of Robert's remonstrating
Hubert Mostyn said he was extremely
sorry — he seemed addressing the grass. Would
he object if Maude fetched her little nephew ?
LUCY AYLMER. 21
Hubert told the grass he should be glad to see
him. That was all Maude needed, and in two
minutes more, she was going towards the
gate. Cecil inspired by some sudden resolu-
tion, rushed after her ; and down the shady
lane they went, side by side, the sun shining
in among the interlaced branches of the trees
on Maude's head and its long ivy wreath.
Lucy looked longingly after them, as she
poured Hubert out his sixth cup of tea, and
became convinced he tvas going to have a
fever. Cecil gazed admiringly at the blooming
Maude, and regretted, with great gallantry,
that he had not an umbrella to hold over her.
Maude declared she liked the sun, then asked
how he thought Lucy looked.
" Exactly as I left her," he replied. " It
will take many, many years to alter the depth
of calmness and peacefulness on that sweet
face ; but w^hat can induce Robert to bring
that eccentric being to his house ?"
" Oh ! he is a peculiar pet of Robert's. I
think he venerates him as much as Lady Anne
'' I hoped he had given up that set. I can-
not see w^hat he wants with them."
22 LUCY AYLMER.
" Robert is soaring slightly high himself,"
replied Maude, laughing at the grave expres-
sion on Cecil's face. Cecil turned towards her
anxiously as she spoke. " Oh ! do not look
alarmed,'' Maude said. " Robert does no harm ;
he only perpetrates a few peculiarities in
church sometimes. The people have become
accustomed to them, and those who still
dislike them go elsewhere."
" Ah ! has it come to that ?" said Cecil,
gravely. " I always said Mostyn was a bad
companion for him. But where are we going.
" To Perkins' farm. Lucy made over little
Harry to the girls for the evening, for fear
Mr. Mostyn should betake himself to fainting
at the sight of the child." Maude fancied
Cecil muttered Mostyn's name in connection
with the word ' fool,' but she was not
"Does Mrs. Aylmer like Mostyn?" Cecil
" She endures him," Maude replied.
" Ah ! I thought so. I must look to Robert.
I cannot let him take up with that set : he is
much too good for them."
LUCY AYLMER. 23
" So I tell him ; but he thinks Mr. Mostyn
is akin to perfection !'* said Maude.
" Robert is ten times the better fellow of
the two : but how goes it with your father ?"
" Oh, papa is always bonnie ! he has gone
to Dyke Moor to-day ;" then recalling to mind
Cecil's advice two years ago, she added,
"papa cannot live without hunting — it is
part of his nature."
" Ah ! I suppose so ; but do you still
accompany him sometimes, Miss Neville ?"
" I ? oh, no ! my first hunt was my last.
I always remembered what you advised me,
and have indeed never led papa to it, Mr.
Erresford," replied Maude, with the utmost
" 1 am glad to hear you say so," was Cecil's
rejoinder. "How natural Forsted looks
again, everything in statu quo, even the willow
pond half dried up, as it always is at this
time of the year," he added.
" The Castle is very desolate," said Maude.
" Is it not going to be inhabited again ?"
" I fear my mother will never choose it as a
residence. Neither she nor Anne has any wish
24 LUCY AYLMER.
*' Is it true, Lady Anne is going to enter
the Roman Catholic Church ?" Maude asked,
but repented the question immediately after,
for Cecil's pleasant expression changed to one
sadly grave, as he replied :
" I hope it is only report ; but neither of
my sisters reposes any confidence in me."
Cecil threw back his head as if to reheve
himself from a weight of care — then returned
his own peculiar smile, and Maude thought
among the many people she had seen, none
were so handsome as he 1
Perkins' farm was before them, a great
low, gable-ended building, with an air of
snugness and comfort about it, and a trim
garden in the front, at the gate whereof, two
damsels smartly attired were standing, one
dancing a baby at the other. The instant they
caught sight of Cecil, both disappeared with
a marvellous rapidity which set Maude
laughing ; however, when Cecil was ushered
into the best parlour, after a little delay, the
young ladies made their appearance, as if they
had not been seen before, blushing and
simpering, and very much disappointed at
losing " Master Aylmer," whom Cecil carried
LUCY AYLMER. 25
back to the vicarage; the ]\Iiss Perkins
watching his tall figure side by side with
Maude ; and the short Miss Perkins tiptoeing
over her sister's shoulder, was heard more
than once to call it " a case." Though what
she meant by this expression, was best known
to herself. But Cecil Erresford thought the
remainder of that evening, that it was a
" case " to be sorry for — that his dear friend
and former protege should have fallen into the
hands of Hubert Mostyn.
It seemed fated that people should be-
come ill at the vicarage. Not two years
before, Lady Flora had passed weeks there
between life and death, and was only restored
through the careful nursing of Lucy Aylmer.
Now, Hubert Mostyn, completely broken
in health, by the long years of austerities,
and suffering from an intermittent fever, in-
stead of three weeks, was detained as many
months under Robert's roof.
The young vicar was unremitting in his
attention to liis guest ; indeed, so much time
did he devote to reading, conversing, and
otherwise amusing his sick friend, that the
little wife began to grow dull and miss his
VOL. III. c
26 LUCY AYLMER.
society. In these autumn months was also
the beginning of an occasional sadness, which
almost in spite of herself, crept over her.
No one noticed it but Cecil, and he traced
it to its source — the source from whence
sadness should least have come to the little
wife — her husband !
Ah ! the brother of St. Margaret's had fallen
ill at Porsted to some purpose. He had taught
Robert to fast on Fridays as well as himself ;
he had taught Robert to observe a rigid for-
mality of speech and manner, greatly at variance
with his natural temperament ; he had taught
him to be reserved to his little wife !
Hubert Mostyn thought nothing of Lucy's
religion. Austere, it certainly was not — formal
it was not — but conscientiously she fulfilled
her duty towards all — even to her husband's
strange guests ; and for Robert, she ever
wore the serenest smiles, ever had the
most winning words. And surely his home
was very sweet to him ; it was always wont to
be so. But time rapidly sped on, and Hubert
was taken back convalescent to St. Margaret's
by Robert, who remained with the fraternity
nearly a week, and returned home looking
LUCY AYLMEU. 27
very tight and straight in his dress, and
bereft of the brown curls which gave such a .
boyish, pleasing look, to his refined coun-
tenance. Lucy wept in secret over the curls,
but not one word of remark did she make to
Robert — nay, she even gravely took his part,
when Maude laughed at him.
The Squire seemed very much perturbed in
mind, having become possessed of the idea,
that Robert was meditating something that
would be of harm to Lucy, either enroling
himself among St. Margaret's brotherhood, or
else leaving the Protestant church altogether.
Therefore it w^as that the Squire remonstrated
mth his son-in-law, but to no eficct. The
Sunday after his return from St. Margaret's,
Robert intoned the whole service in a way
which utterly spoiled his hitherto clear and
audible voice. He thought proper likewise
to read the Litany every morning at the
unheard-of hour of half-past seven ; after which
he called together the village boys, and
selected ten with the best voices and trained
in the art of chanting, and had them clothed
as choristers. The children had learnt nicely
28 LUCY AYLMER.
under Lucy's pleasant tuition the usual
chants, for since Lady Anne's departure she
had taken them in hand. But when it came
to the whole of the psalms and an anthem
besides, there happened a dreadful break
down — a general titter ran round the church,
which so abashed the newly formed choir,
that they resolutely declined all share in the
vocal part of the service, which again fell to
Poor Lucy ! for the first time her husband
found fault with her singing, and called it a
conventicle style ! disapproved altogether of
the choice of her tunes — and begged the loan
of some of the choristers from St. Margaret's
for one Sunday, to let the congregation know
what real church music was. And certainly
the effect was sweet — the low, melodious
voices and perfect time. But one or two
poor people told Lucy afterw^ards so much
singing spoiled the prayers, and they did
not dare join themselves in such fine music !
All the complaints were poured upon Lucy ;
as if, sweet child, she could help her hus-
band being led into absurdities by Hubert
LUCY AYLMER. 29
Mostyn, who was prompted by Lady Anne,
under the plea of having the welfare of
Forsted at heart.
Cecil Erresford saw Robert's changes with
regret, and expostulated with him in his
kindest way; but Robert's only reply was,
he felt convinced he was doing right ; and
daily did Forsted's vicar become more
30 LUCY ATLMER.
She neither -weeps,
Nor sighs, nor groans ; too strong her agony
For outward sign of anguish, and for prayer
Too liopeless was the ill ; and though, at times.
The pious exclamation past her lips,
Thy will be done ! Yet was that utterance
Rather the breathing of a broken heart.
Than of a soul resigned.
Christmas had come round again with a
depth of snow hitherto almost unheard of in
the annals of Worsted. There were great drifts
on the hill-sides, wherein, if any one fell,
they stood a good chance of never emerging ;
and every pond in the neighbourhood was
frozen inches deep.
Maude was learning to skate on the
Castle lake with Cecil Erresford as her in-
LrCY AYLMER. 31
structor — he was frequently at Forsted now.
Lucy sometimes came to look on, and was
persuaded by Maude to venture a few steps
on the ice; but Lucy's interest in country
pastimes had gone ; her whole soul was
wrapped up now in the extraordinary change
which had taken place in her husband. Six
months had turned the once happy, light-
hearted Robert into a gloomy ascetic.
He had enrolled himself among the brother-
hood of St. Margaret's, as a sort of out mem-
ber; and two or three days of each week
were spent away from the two whose interests
ought to have been nearest his heart — his
parish and his wife. The former murmured
and rebelled, threatened to appeal to the
Bishop ; the latter quietly bore the first trials
that had ever dawned on that young heart.
She who had comforted Lady Mora, needed
comfort now herself; but it came not. Com-
plaints she heard on all sides without having
one truthful vindication to ofier in favour of
her husband. Her only refuge was silence.
Thus it came about that the holy season
of Christmas was not a happy one to Lucy
Aylmer; for though her father's love and
32 LUCY AYLMER.
Maude's were dear to her, no earthly thing
could compensate for her husband's frequent
absence, and shrinking from her when at
It was Twelfth Night, and Lucy had re-
fused to join a party at Friarsford, because
her husband, who was then at St. Margaret's,
had promised to return that evening. On
leaving Lucy, two or three days before, he
had shown some of his foraier warmth, and
the little wife felt hopeful.
She made a large cheerful fire in her com-
fortable drawing-room, drew closely the
warm red curtains ; and placing her husband's
chair by the fire, and his slippers in the
fender, she sat down to her work by the table.
Having turned up the lamp, and sent a general
brightness through the room, Lucy looked
around to see if everything wore a pleasant
aspect to cheer her dear traveller on entering ;
and even her neat eye was satisfied. Lucy
herself wore a new dress of Robert's favourite
colour, light blue, to surprise him — and her
soft shining hair was arranged with more
than usual care ; nnd the little wife's unruffled
sweetness of countenance ought to have been
LUCY AYLMER. 33
an attraction to a husband coming from the
dreary St. Margaret's Priory and gloomy
Little Harry slept peacefully in his nursery ;
and Lucy was occupied braiding a pehsse for
him of the same material as her pretty bright
dress ; and as she worked, she sang low to
herself old familiar songs, which carried her
back to the past, with all its sweet recollec-
tions — the first seventeen years of her life,
how radiant, how unclouded, all gladdened
by the intense love of her father and Maude.
Then came the devotion of her husband, and
the joyousness of her first two years of wedded
life — her every wish, her every heart's desire
fulfilled — and all in all to her were her hus-
band and her little child. But after this clouds
came one by one on the horizon of her happi-
ness, and by-and-bye they condensed and
hung heavily over her head — but as yet not
one had burst ! Her own sweet patience, trust
and love had warded them ofi"; and each day
she lived in hope that they would disperse,
and restore to her her former bright life. She
often said to herself, "when the night is
darkest, the stars shine forth ;" and though
34 LUCY AYLMER.
the stars were long in coming, she never
ceased in untiring patience to look for
All ! as she drew back the curtain that the
light might meet her weary husband's eye,
she was a star herself ; yet she shone in the
firmament of her holiness and goodness, like
a beacon from which the traveller turns his
gaze and will not see the steady, unwavering
Hght, which might, otherwise, have saved him
from the quicksands.
Lucy Aylmer worked on ; sang on ; only
occasionally stopping to go to the window
and peer out into the darkness — but no Ro-
bert came. She grew anxious — it was Satur-
day night, and he never failed to come home
for his Sunday duty. Lucy went to the hall
door: a gust of wind howled and danced
around her in a kind of wild fury, and drove
snow flakes against her. She could see
nothing but the tall elm on the lawn, looking
like a great white ghost — she could hear
nothing but the heavy, dull sound of the
storm, as it were grinding the air. She shook
and trembled with cold ; and shutting the
door against the wind, which battled with
LUCY AYLMER. 35
her, she went back to her soUtude, and won-
dered where her beloved Robert was. The
tea-things had been on the table nearly three
hours ; it would soon be nine o'clock, the time
the last train from Ackington reached Bran-
Lucy tried to be calm and quiet for another
hour, making allowances for the depth of
snow and the difficulty of travelling. But
the minutes passed on and on, slowly, drag-
gingly to the little wife longing, hoping,
fearing for her absent husband. At ten
o'clock, Lucy was worked up to a kind of
quiet despair, and went up to the nursery.
Her child slumbered on in sweet unconscious-
ness of his mother's anxiety ; she bent over
him, and kissed him as he slept. The nurse
who was working by the fire, said in a tone
of alarm :
" What ever can have come to master to-
" The snow is so very deep, the train may
have been delayed," Lucy said; "but he has
never been so late before, though last Satur-
day it was equally stormy."
36 LUCY AYLMER.
" There may not be any flys out to-night,"
the nurse suggested.
" I think I shall put on my thick cloak,
and go up to the Manor House. I know papa
would send the dog-cart to Branstone."
" Lor, ma'am ! why you would be blown
away !" exclaimed the nurse, eyeing her
mistress's slight little figure with a look of
" I must do something," Lucy said. " I feel
as if T could not bear this suspense."
" Oh, but ma'am ! I could not hear of your
going out. You'd be blown down in the snow
and buried there !" the nurse said in a tone
of respectful authority.
Lucy stood looking at the fire some minutes
in silence, then slowly went away. Resolute
in her purpose, she wrapt herself up in a
large cloak, whose hood she turned over her
head ; then enveloping her feet in snow-boots,
lantern in hand, noiselessly the little wife
glided out from her warm, snug house, into
the snow storm.
It was such a dreadful night, she dared not
ask her servants to go out; but she thought
LUCY AYLMER. 37
no weather too bad to brave for the husband,
who neglected and shunned her. With all
her strength, she baffled against the storm,
twice falling in the snow before she reached
her own gate. Though men had been employed
all day in clearing the lane, the snow had
collected ancle deep since dark ; but on went
the brave Lucy holding before her the glim-
mering lantern, and praying as she went for
her misguided husband.
The Squire was snoring by the fire in his
arm-chair, after his evening's jorum of brandy
and water. Maude sat on the hearth-rug
reading a very horrid story, with the wind howl-
ing discordantly down the wide old chimney,
when the house bell rang faintly. Some one
was on the point of being murdered in
Maude's book ; and at the low, mysterious
bell, she started up, thinking it part of the
book, not reality, so unusual was the sound at
that late hour, and in such a dreadful night.
Stillness succeeded the ring, and Maude re-
turned to her book, determining it to be
imagination, when again the bell sounded
louder than before. The Squire's snoring
suddenly came to an end, but he continued
38 LUCY AYLMER.
to sleep heavily. Maude darted up, and
opening the door a little way, peeped through
it. She watched Morris cross the hall, heard
him with tiresome slowness withdraw the
bolts and bars of the ponderous door; she
saw him start back with surprise, when a
little figure white from head to foot and holding
in one hand an extinguished lantern, dropped
breathlessly down on a chair. In an instant,
Maude had darted forward and knelt on the
floor at her sister's feet, exclaiming : " Oh,
my darling child !" Lucy snailed on her, but
could not speak for some minutes. " My
poor dear," Maude went on in an indignant
tone, as she pulled off her sister's heavy cloak
and wet boots, "my darling ! what is the
matter ?" Lucy gasped painfully for breath,
then came the words uttered in a tone of
" He has not come home !"
" Sweetest, he is not here," Maude
" We must send," Lucy said. " Where
Rubbing his eyes, and only half awake, the
Squire stood on the threshold of the drawing-
LUCY AYLMER. 39
room, gazing dreamily at his young daughters :
presently he exclaimed, " Bless my heart
alive ! Lucy bird, what brought you here ?"
" Oh, papa ! Robert has not come home,"
Lucy replied, as she put her arm round
Maude's neck, and rested her head on her
" I wish that Priory would all come to rack
and ruin ! What on earth do men make such
fools of themselves for ?"
" Oh, papa it is the storm ! depend upon
it, it is the storm. He never remained away
yet on Sunday."
" Not come to that yet 1" grumbled the
Squire; "and so you, precious httle thing,
walked all through the snow to enquire after
that good-for-nothing husband of yours 1" The
Squire took her up in his arms, and carrying
her into the dra^dng-room deposited her in
Lucy looked bewildered and said meekly,
" Do not think of me, papa ! think of him. He
may be lost in the snow !"
" I suppose you want me to go and look
for him. He is not worthy of such a wife !
When I was a young man, 1 would have
40 LUCY AYLMER.
blown my brains, out, sooner than desert my
Lucy as he does his /"
Maude made signs that he was only dis-
tressing Lucy, who said in her gentle tones
of ready excuse, "Dear papa, he has never
left me one Sunday yet. He mut be at
Branstone, perhaps even now walking home.
Oh, it is such a dreadful night !"
" And yet my poor httle girl walked
through it all. Bless my heart alive, how you
tremble ! Well, I'll go to Branstone, if we can
get a horse to drag us along through the
snow. Now keep yourself quiet, my pretty
one ; and if he is to be found, I'll bring him
Lucy poured thanks upon her father, w^ho
muttered when he got out into the hall, " the
young rascal — to desert her like this !" Lucy
saw her father off, well covered with wraps, and
watched the dog- cart drive slowly away,
shivering and trembling, till Maude made
her come back to the lire and the arm-chair,
where after listening eagerly for sounds, she
at length, fell asleep. Maude sat silently
watching the child-like face, a half-dried
tear on her cheek, and an expression of re-
LUCY AYLMER. 41
signation on her sweet countenance, sad,
yet beautiful to behold ; and Maude's proud
lip curled, and she looked fiery enough to
fight a host of Roberts. And then again, she
glanced at her fair young sister, trials
gathering around her so soon ; and though
Maude struggled against them, tears of
grief and anger swelled in her large dark
Lucy did not sleep long ; the sound of
the house bell awoke her. One of the servants
from the Vicarage had come up to see after
her mistress. Lucy hoped it w^as to tell of
Robert's arrival, and a shade of great disap-
pointment came across her sad face, when she
learnt the real cause of the servant's arrival.
Maude piled up fresh wood in the broad
chimney, down wdiich the wind kept on
sighing and whistling.
Lucy wanted to go to the door, and again
look out ; but Maude insisted on her remain-
ing by the fire. So, restless and anxious,
the little wife sat down on a footstool and
laid her head wearily on Maude's lap, and
talked in a low voice of the probability of
her husband passing the night at Acking-
42 LUCY AYLMER.
ton, and coming home by an early train, in
time for morning service. Then again she
fancied he was somewhere in the snow : the
drifts were so deep, and it was impossible
to walk many steps together, she said, with-
Maude praised her heroism for venturing
out, while she scolded her playfully for being
so rash. Lucy said, she could not think of
herself while- he was out. Maude only
wished Robert were as thoughtful of her
happiness — he would not remain away so
long at that wretched Priory.
The fire went on burning with low, hissing
sounds, as each fresh piece of wood caught
the dying flame of the last. There was an
intense, almost woeful silence throughout
the house ; and outside at intervals, the dogs
set up dismal bowlings. The old clock, on
its tall pedestal in the hall, ticked loudly
and monotonously, and the two young sisters
sat alone in the great room with its dark
pannelled pictures, over which deep shadows
fell and sent a gloom along the walls.
Maude absolutely shuddered as she called
to mind the horrid parts of the story she
LUCY AYLMER. 43
had been readinp^, and lonpred for sometliino;
to break tbe stillness.
Lucy's heart beat with fear, but very dif-
ferent from that of Maude's. The howlings of
the dogs, the ticking of the great clock, the
shadows were to her as if they did not exist ;
every nerve was strained in acute anxiety
for her husband's return. She had relapsed
into watchful silence, except when now and
then, she uttered the words : " Hark ! what
is that?" in a low, anxious voice that made
Maude long for some pretext to ring the
bell for Morris ; but shame at her own fears
kept her still, looking down on the fair head
resting on her lap.
And so died out the week's last day ; and
even St. Walburga's twelve distinct chimes
following each other slowly, had something
awful in them.
Lucy started. Maude was growing terribly
nervous, and was thinking over the murder
scene in her book.
" Maude, dear, it is Sunday morning,"
" Yes, darling ! does not the fire want
44 LUCY AYLMER.
" No, dear, the large log is not half burnt
" Had I not better ring for some candles —
the lamp is going out ?" said Maude.
" It cannot be, dear. Morris wound it up
just after I came in — oh ! Maude, this is a
sad commencement of Sunday morning !"
" The day may terminate better than it
" Oh ! I hope it will. I wish I could
trust more. I know God will guide my
Robert's feet wherever it is safest, and yet I
do feel anxious."
" It is natural, love ; but depend upon it,
the brothers have persuaded Robert to re-
main at the Priory."
" Not unless he is ill. The out-brothers
who have duty, always leave. And Robert's
party are so punctual, so regardless of health
and everything secular 1"
"But, dear Lucy, think of the weather.
This night is one in a thousand."
" It is — it is !" Lucy murmured. " Oh ! if
he were only what he was, then I could bear
it better. But to lose him so, when he has
gone all away from the real, only path — "
LUCY AYLMER. 45
Lucy said this in a voice scarcely audible,
and shuddered at her thoughts. Maude
had no comfort to give, but Lucy continued :
*' Maude, darling, do repeat a hymn to me,
one we used to know long ago. I cannot
bear my thoughts, they are so repining."
Maude's mind was so confused, she could
remember nothing but the " Evening Hymn ;"
and just as she commenced it, the back door
swung to, then the passage door, and the
Squire's well-known tread sounded on the
Lucy started to her feet — her father was
alone ! He was clapping his hands together
to thaw them ; but when Lucy came out to
him, he put his arras round her and kissed
her, and said it was all right — the station-
master assured him Mr. Aylmer had never
passed the platform, and there was scarcely a
passenger by any of the down trains.
"Depend upon it, little woman. Bob and
the holy brothers are fast asleep and snoring ;
and Sunday's train will bring him in all safe
Lucy hoped so, and drew her father to
46 LUCY AYLMER.
the fire, and kneeling down by him, warmed
" Lor bless me, if ever there was such a
night !" said the Squire, " James and I had
to take the reins alternately, while the other
thawed his hands. It took me more than an
hour to get to Branstone, and then the station
gates were shut, and Billy Rogers put out
hig head in his night cap, and asked what was
the row, in a regular growling tone. But when
I said I came from Mrs. Aylmer, my eye ! he
came round mighty civil ; he was an old
admirer of yours, little Lu ! I would rather
marry a station-master than a parson. But,
never mind, the parson will turn up all right
soon. He'll tire out of living on bread and
vegetables,- and praying all night long in some
Lucy tried to smile, and Maude who was
becoming sleepy, and thought there was a
needless fuss about Robert, who must be quite
safe at St. Margaret's and would make his
appearance on the morrow, made Lucy retire
to rest, promising she should return home
early in the morning. As soon as it was
LUCY AYLMER. 47
light, Lucy was up. The storm had subsided
and a severe frost hardened the snow. Lucy
set forth home with a heavy heart — her first
care was to send a messenger to Friarsford to
beg Mr. Lewis to spare his curate, so that
in case of Robert's non-arrival, everything
might go on just as usual, and create no
surprise. At eight, the church bells rang
forth their early peal — reminding Lucy,
strangely, sadly of her wedding-day, when her
heart was so hght and untroubled, she could
have sung for joy ; and now, she might well
have sat down and wept ! But she had no
time to weep — she had more hope than the
previous night — There was a bright sunshine
spread over the earth ghstening radiantly on
the snow, and it seemed to send its rays into
her heart. She prepared breakfast, sent a
servant to the train, then waited patiently her
husband's arrival. But the news of Robert's
absence had spread country wise, all over the
village ; and one person after another came up
to the vicarage with enquiries after Mr.
Aylmer, and if there was to be any service.
Lucy had enough to do. The farmers expected
an audience ; and Lucy's patience was sorely
48 LUCY AYLMER.
tried by their idle questioning, to which her
unvarying reply was, " Mr. Aylmer was doubt-
less detained by the storm ; but that a
substitute had been provided." About ten
o'clock, Cecil Erresford made his appearance,
not to ask questions : he understood it all
instantly — but to volunteer a journey to St.
Margaret's to learn the real state of the case,
and, if possible, ease Lucy's mind — and his
own too. Por not commonly anxious was he
at Robert's prolonged absence. Lucy did not
know how to feel grateful enough to Cecil
for his kindness. She thought now she should
know all ; and felt her heart less heavy when
she saw him turn his horse's head towards
Branstone. At a little before eleven, Lucy
gave up every hope of Robert's appearing in
time for service, and was not a little glad to
see Mr. Lewis coming up the garden. Of
course, he too wanted an explanation of
Robert's absence, and looked grave enough on
learning how many days he had been away at
the Ackington brotherhood. His heart was full
of pity for the patient enduring Lucy, and he
took her under his especial protection to
church. Lucy shd in through the vestry to
LUCY AYLMER. 49
avoid meeting any of the villagers, and when
alone in her own pew her forced calmness
gave way, and she cried bitterly.
The new chaunts were ill sung without
Robert to lead them ; and the children were all
whispering among themselves conjectures as
to what " our paarson had come to ?" Mr.
Lewis preached a very solemn sermon, the
very opposite in doctrine to Robert's sleepy
high church discourses ; and the farmers
nodded approvingly, and called it the " right
sort of thing," when they spoke with their
neighbours in the churchyard after the service
was over, and drew comparisons which
were not much in Robert's favour. All this
Lucy heard, and had to hear. Poor httle
wife ! her husband seemed dearer to her now
than he had ever been : she could think of
nought else, though throughout dinner and
till the quarter bells chimed for afternoon
service, she tried to do her best in entertaining
Mr. Lewis. Every one was very kind, scru-
pulously kind to Lucy : the farmers volunteered
their services to go to St. Margaret's to see
after the parson ; and Lord De Walden, who
was now a resident at the Castle, a quiet,
VOL. III. D
50 LUCY ATLMEK.
timid young man, sent to Lucy, asking
whether he coukl be of any use to her ? The
Squire got a fit of restless indignation, and rode
off to Branstone to meet Cecil — Maude came
down to Lucy to accompany her to church.
But Lucy remained at home, anxiously
awaiting Cecil, whom she expected to retm'n
about four o'clock. The Sunday bells rung
out their peal ; and when they had died away,
and the villagers ceased flocking past her
gate to church, Lucy fetched down her baby,
and walked a little way along the road leading
to Branstone, where the declining sun was
shedding its parting rays. The road was
silent and deserted, and no voices broke
the stillness, but those of Lucy and her
little child, who called in his eager baby
voice, " Papa ! papa !" The wind blew
frostily along ; and Lucy feared the cold
for her child. Reluctantly she returned
to her solitary home. Her pretty, snug
drawing-room looked desolate. She drew
Robert's arm-chair towards the fire, hoping
almost against hope that Cecil would bring
The sun set ; darkness began to steal
LUCY AYLMER. 51
forth. Little Harry slept soundly on a pile
of cushions. Lucy shaded her face from
the fire, and read the parable of the Prodigal
Son out of the neglected Bible of her poor
Robert, which she had given him long ago.
It was a christening Sunday ; there were
several children to be baptised, and the
congregation were late in coming home. A
crescent moon rose faintly, and played on the
sparkling snow. The trees on the lawn,
cold and shrouded things, peeped in at the
windows on that desolate young wife, who had
fallen into a slumber whilst praying for her
Slowly a horseman rode along Branstone
Hill ; and a great care was on his mind. The
cold wind stole around him, and the frost
looked bitterly at him. But neither did he
notice ; his thoughts were preoccupied with
a strange, a startling theme. It haunts him
as on he guides his horse along the slippery
road, and gathers on him. It shades his
brow as he enters the vicarage lane. The
small crescent moon regards him in gentle
wonder ; but he thinks not of her. He leads
his horse round to Farmer Perkins' stable,
and asks him to take care of it. He is
assailed by a volley of questions, which he
answers slowly, unsatisfactorily. The farmer
watches him from over the gate, and beholds
Cecil enters the vicarage — the farmer goes
in, and imparts the news to his family.
The short Miss Perkins becomes shghtly
hysterical, and sobs :
" Oh ! our parson's dead !"
There is very little light now in the vicarage
windows ; and the snow scene without looks
cruel in its whiteness. St. Walburga's chimes
have long since gone six ; and the farmers
and labourers are comfortable by their fire-
sides ; and at the cottages of the newly
baptised infants, there are little friendly
gatherings. There is a room at the vica-
rage where nothing has entered for the last
half hour but the strugghng beams of the
full moon on the floor. There kneels a small,
childish figure ; and a fair head, whereon fall
the moonbeams, rests heavily against the side
of the bed. Her hands are clasped above her
head ; and she neither weeps nor prays.
Something has fallen on her, and seems to
crush her beneath its weight !
My flower, my blighted flower ! thou that wert made
For the kind fostering of sweet summer airs,
How hath the storm been with thee !
Robert Aylmer had left St. Margarets
at the usual hour. Hubert Mostyn assured
Cecil, that he had gone mth the intention of
returning home ; he had even misled the
brotherhood. He had been seen by the
station-master at Ackington, enter an up-
train, after having taken a first-class ticket to
London ; he had been seen at Paddington,
to alight : one of the porters formerly in
Lord De Walden's service, had carried his
carpet-bag for him to a cab — but beyond
that the vicar (jf Porsted was not to
be traced. Cecil left nothing untried. He
54 LUCY AYLMER.
went himself to the Paddington Station, ex-
pressly to procure the last information : he
wrote to various friends — ^made personal en-
quiries — but in vain.
The first shock of Lucy's grief, at finding
her husband had deserted her, gradually sub-
sided ; and wdth an energy of w^hich no one
thought her capable, she suggested and
planned various means, by which she imagined
he might be traced. At last, an idea presented
itself to her of discovering whether or no he
had left England, by enquiring at the various
consulates, if at such a period, a passport had
been made out in his name.
Cecil highly approved of the thought, and
at once started for London, where, after a
little trouble, he ascertained Robert had
received a passport for Paris, two days after
his disappearance from Ackington. Gladly
did Cecil communicate the intelligence to the
Manor, where Lucy had removed ; and with-
out returning to the Castle, Cecil instantly
started for Paris, and from Paris the unweary-
ing friend traced from halting-place to
halting-place Worsted's vicar, till at last Rome
received him, as she has received many a once
LUCY ATLMER. OD
good and devoted son of England's church, in
this our nineteenth century. But at Rome Cecil's
search suddenly came to an end, and weeks
of untiring patience were expended but to no
purpose. Neither in Rome, nor beyond Rome,
was Robert to be heard of ; his passport lay at
the office, but his person was not traceable in
church, promenade, hotel, or lodging. Was
it possible the deluded young man had met
with an early and untimely death ? Every
register was searched — Robert Aylmer still
lived. The remainder of January and part
February, Cecil passed in the city of Popery,
whose crafts had blinded and deluded the
friend whom Cecil sought, but sought iir
In February, he returned to his seat in
Parliament, where the new member for
Arminster, also astonished the House by his
eloquence; the brothers-in-law were so dif-
ferent, so opposite, Cecil's upright cheerful
looks outshining Archer's dark, cloudy brow,
even as Archer's eloquence outshone his.
Lady Flora had written many a sympathis-
ing letter to Lucy, and Lucy had sent many a
sympathising letter to Flora, who, with a hus-
56 LUCY AYLMER.
band many envied, riches many longed after,
rank, some would have given worlds to obtain,
was yet even more to be pitied than Lucy.
Augusta Neville, was at May-Fair, by
especial invitation, and was admired and
sought after, still throwing the Lady Flora
Tyrrell completely into the shade ; but Flora
was glad she was there : her husband's temper
was ever subdued by his sister's presence.
The Squire hunted on. to drown the
thought of his Lucy's sorrow, which was
very grievous to him ; and he betted on and
borrowed, until his last acre was in the power
of his crafty brother. And Maude's life was
devoted to Lucy and her little Harry. Lucy
was sweet-tempered and mindful as ever of
the happiness of others, but her hghtness of
spirit, and enjoyment of hfe was gone. She
never laughed now, and few but her child
called up her smiles ; she was like a flower
early bUghted by summer storm — and the
Squire's handsome daughter grew so beauti-
ful, so attractive, that she was the toast of
the country, and many aspired eagerly after
her. But all were refused, and it began to
be rumoured that her sister's unhappiness had
LUCY AYLMEE. 57
set her against the thoughts of marrying. I
wonder if the rumour were true ?
March blew itself in, sunned itself out.
April wept on the blossoms and trees, till
May caught them from her tears, and laughed
and smiled on them. June held a canopy of
gold and azure o'er the earth, and brought
bright tints then of many flowers — it brought
too a tiny blossom into the old ancestral house
of the Nevilles, which the parching, thirsty
days of July saw brought to the font, and
receive its father's name.
It was a frail little blossom, and very dear
to its mother's heart ; but when Augusta's
harvest day came, and the earth rejoiced, the
little Robert slept beneath the church's shade,
and his mother strewed roses over his tiny
grave. Thus eight months passed away since
the stormy night when Robert forsook his
wife, his child and his home. There was no
new vicar appointed to Forsted. Cecil en-
gaged a former tutor of his for a year to
perform the duty, at the end of which time
he hoped that something might be heard of
Robert. The vicarage was unaltered ; the
58 LUCY AYLMER.
curate lived there, and took care of the house,
which Lucy had never entered since that
dreadful Sunday, vrhen Maude came and
carried her away.
It was early on an August evening. Lucy
sat by the open window of the drawing-room
at the Manor, working for the poor, while
Maude read to her — their Aunt was absent,
though the Manor was nominally her home,
yet she seldom honoured it by her presence.
The Squire had not yet returned from his
hunt. A letter was brought to Lucy from the
Castle : it was from Lord De Walden, enclosing
one from his mother dated " Rome," in
which the Countess mentioned having met
Mr. Aylmer many times at the Palace of the
Marchesa Elmo, a friend of Lady Anne, and
that Mr. Aylmer had become a Roman
Catholic, which the Countess thought very
shocking ! That was all she said on the subject.
Maude watched attentively her sister's coun-
tenance as she read and re-read the Countess's
letter to her son — at last, Lucy looked up
with a smile on her face, brighter than had
been there for many a long day.
LUCY ATLMER. 59
" Maude dear, I am so thankful !" she
" For what, darling ?" Maude asked ea-
" Oh ! my prayers are answered now. I
know where he is, and I can go to him !"
Again her face glistened with some of its old
brightness, as she gave the letter to her sister,
Maude read it slowly, Lucy murmuring all
" Oh, this is good news ! this is good
" But, my darling, you do not really
think of going ?" Maude exclaimed pre-
" Oh ! Maude dear, yes ! Think how sohtary
he must be. I dare say he is longing for me
even now, and perhaps is afraid to ask me to
come — dear Robert !" and her eyes ghstened
Maude looked at her sister, and a strange
indefinable feeling shot through her, a sort of
fear for Lucy, whose goodness seemed too pure,
too exalted for this every day world.
" I shall take nurse and little Hariy — how
60 LXJCY AYLMER.
pleased Robert will be with him ! and then/'
she added lowering her voice, " I can tell him
of our darling in heaven."
" But, Lucy, papa will never allow you to
go without some one to take care of you. We
could not permit it indeed."
" You must not think me unkind, Maude,
dearest sister, I would not appear so for the
world ; but I can not have any one but little
Harry. Robert might bear me — but, dearest,
after all that has passed, other faces would
seem like a reproach to him. I have not pained
you, my Maude?"
" Sweetest, no ! I understand all you mean ;
but the fatigue of travelling, and the loneli-
"I could bear them both with such a
reward at the end. Oh, Maude ! this is
the brightest hour I have had for a long, long
Maude tried not to sigh, but one of those
forebodings of evil which sometimes haunt
us, seemed to say, if Lucy parted from them,
they might never meet again.
" Lucy, dear, the Countess does not mention
LUCY ATLMER. 61
Robert's place of residence, or anything about
it. We ought to write for farther informa-
tion," Maude said in a pesuasive tone.
" Lady De Walden, doubtless, knows where
he lives. When I reach Rome, she will tell me
all I wish to learn."
" But, my darling, you have never travelled
alone before ?"
" God will take care of me, wherever I am,
my own dear ; I shall have no occasion to be
afraid. You know I am pretty well acquainted
with French and Itahan, thanks to Aunt
Augusta ; how often she used to tell us we
should find our studies useful ; how little we
dreamt then what this winter would bring !
but it is all for the best, and I dare say the
day will come when I shall see it so."
" I trust the day will come when you will
have your old happiness again, darling,"
Maude said fondlv.
" I feel as if it were near. There is joy yet
in store for me. I shall have it in meeting
my Robert, and in making him happy — and,
perhaps, keeping him from greater harm ; but
my greatest hope," she added with much
sweetness, " is that Robert may learn to love
62 LUCY AYLMER.
the Bible again — and that he will learn to
love me as he once did, in the days without a
cloud — it seems difficult now ; but it may
come about, and then — " The Squire's
horse trotted up the walk. Lucy heard the
sound and stopped speaking, so she did not
finish her sentence of " then there would be
no more happiness to wish for, it would be
complete." She intended to have said this ;
but instead she went out through the open
window, and met her father on the lawn. He
dismounted from his horse, held her in his
arms, and kissed her calm face.
" My own looks herself to-night," he said,
"bright little gem!" the Squire kissed her
again, and looked enquiringly at her — she
drew her arm through his, and said :
"Are you tired papa?"
"No, Lucy bird, do you want to take a
" Yes, dear papa ! but wait for Maude."
Maude came, and wrapping her sister in a
shawl, held Lucy's hand in her's, as they
walked linked together up and down the
path between the shrubberies. The day had
been intensely hot, and the evening was calm
LUCY AYLMER. 63
and still ; the flowers bent down by tlie heat,
revived at the moistening of the crystal
" Papa dearest !" Lucy said, " you have
loved me very much, and cared for me very
much. But I must leave you."
"Lucy, my child!" the Squire exclaimed
in anxious tones of enquiry.
" Yes, papa, I have heard to-day of Robert,
and I must go to him — you will be glad when
we are together again — will you not, dear
" I don't understand it all," the Squire
said, looking appeahngly at Maude.
Maude had the Countess's letter in her
hand, and she read aloud the paragraph con-
" Ah ! I thought so — I told him so years
ago 1" the Squire exclaimed ; " and my poor
Httle woman — what would you do in a land of
" They would not hurt me," Lucy said with
a staid smile.
" Let me write to him, and, perhaps, then
the young gentleman will think better of him-
64 LUCY AYLMER.
self and come back — Erresford has left the
" Mr. Erresford has been so good. Robert
will feel grateful, T know ; but we must not
write. No, dear papa, I have quite made up
my mind to go to him."
" When are we to start then, little woman ?"
the Squire said.
" Oh, dear papa, I am going quite alone,"
Lucy replied. " I have explained it all to
Maude, and she understands how it must
'' Queen Maude does not know anything
about it, if she fancies I should ever let my
Lucy bird stretch her little wings abroad,
without the old swallow by her side."
" You do not know, papa, how well I can
take care of myself ; and Robert will think I
have much more trust in him, if I go to him
" And what will you do when you get
there ?" the Squire asked — wondering at the
courage and gentle determination of the small,
fair creature by his side.
" I shall find out Robert's lodgings and go
LUCY AYLMER. 65
to him ; and I intend to take Harry and a
servant, papa, so I shall do very well. Every
week I can write to you and Maude ; and
then, when Robert has quite forgiven my
taking him by storm, you could join us — and,
perhaps, we could all come home together."
The Squire was quite affected with Lucy's
quiet hopeful plans. He frowned and winced
and waged war with a tear, which, however,
gained the day, and dropped down his sun-
burnt cheek. Lucy was gazing at the evening
star shining out in its beauty. The Squire
too looked up.
" You will not find this quietude in foreign
countries, Lucy bird!" he said.
" There is peace everywhere, dear papa —
even in crowded thoroughfares, for trusting
" Ah ! my own gem. I hope peace will
come to you at last."
" I am sure of it, dear papa," Lucy replied ;
" if I could only reach dear Robert, to pass
the anniversary of om- wedding-day together.
We have never been apart yet on that day."
" That allows you little time for journeying,
Lucy darling," Maude said.
66 LUCY AYLMER.
" 1 ought to do it in a week, Maude. You
and papa might take me to Paris — that would
be seeing me part of my way."
" That is a bright idea, little woman !"
said the Squire. " Maude and I have never
seen foreign parts yet."
Lucy added, in a winning tone :
"You will think me very pressing — but
could we not be in London to-morrow
" That is short breathing time ; but it shall
be as you please," replied her father, thinking
it best to let Lucy have her own way.
They walked up and down amid the shady
trees and shrubberies, till a starry host filled
the sky, and the sounds and lights in the
village died away. Lucy spoke most. The
Squire and Maude felt a dreariness at the
thought of their Lucy leaving her home again ;
and for what ? They knew not. Her husband
might welcome her with love ; but he might
plunge her in yet deeper sorrow. The moon
rose, and Lucy feeling weary, the Squire and
his daughters went in again under the roof of
the Manor House — and the doors were closed,
and shut out the night. Lucy wrote that
LUCY AYLMER. 67
evening in her journal the text, " God is love."
Her heart was filled with gratitude and praise,
and yet sorrow must still cling around her,
and the light shall not dawn yet ! The moon
lingered that night around the sleeping forms
of Lucy and her little child ; It had shone
on her many a night as she slept.
An almanack pasted to the wall of a scan-
tily furnished room in Rome, gave information
that August's days were nearly over. Every
day as it passed away had had a black mark
through it, but against that day, the 29th of
the month, there was a red cross placed, and
not a cross only, but a line all round the
figures, hedging them in and keeping them
separate from the rest. A corner of the
almanack had become loosened from the wall,
and the breeze coming in at an open window,
flapped it up and down with a rustling
sound. The same breeze that perpetrated
this little disturbance, also blew against the
shoulders of a young man who stooped over
a table with a cup of coffee by his side, and
several books spread open before him.
68 LUCY AYLMER.
Apparently the familiarity of the frolicsome
zephyr was displeasing to him, for he shrugged
first one shoulder, then the other ; and finally
pushing back his chair, he rose to shut out
the intruder. The window was many stories
up in a high house, and looked directly
into the corresponding window of another
tall house. And did the young student
direct his eyes downward, they lighted
on a dirty street with no footpath, where
the sun seldom shone on the sable
priests, veiled nuns, vegetable-carriers, water-
carriers, vetturinos and others who passed and
repassed. There were no attractions for
pausing to look above the faded blinds ; and
the young man, whfen he had closed out the
summer breeze, turned away again to his
table ; and in turning, his eyes encountered
the almanack on the wall.
There was a Madonna, the Crucifixion, a
head of St. Ambrose, a likeness of the Pope ;
but none rivetted those languid blue eyes, like
the English almanack. For ten minutes they
never wandered from it, though during so
short a period transition took place which
exchanged the expression of that pallid coun-
LUCY AYLMER. 69
tenance from apathy to self-accusation and
He stole back to his chair, drew from his
pocket a leather case filled with papers, and
from among them he selected one with careful
handhng, from whence came two locks of hair
folded in a piece of old ribbon. The one
exceeding fair, the other like a skein of unspun
silk in texture ; and in colour it might have
overshadowed an anQ-el's brow in its soft
golden shade. The young man raised these
to his lips ; then throwing his arms before him,
pressed his forehead on the table and groaned
aloud. Ah ! well does he recall the hour when
that faded ribbon was preserved in remem-
brance of his happiness !
A stealthy footfall ascended the many
stairs, as silent, as cautious as a spy on secret
mission bound; it halted on the highest
landing ; then, in the young man's room stood
a dark and aged figure.
A deadly pallor overspread the student's
countenance. He raised his head, and sas
trembling and cowering like a culprit.
The old man addressed hot and angry
words to him ; spoke of " duty, weakness, and
70 LUCY ATLMER.
retrograding." The other in return pleaded
" natural affection." The eyes of the old
man grow bright with anger, and the effemi-
nate countenance of his companion is suffused
with resentment. But a little while, and this
all passed away.
The student knelt low, and kissed the old
man's hand with the same lips that had
pressed those two fair locks. And when the
old man had laid his hand forgivingly on
the suppliant head, together they passed from
that prison-like room, down the one hundred
and seventy steep stone steps, and so out
into the dismal street ; and from thence the
Padre Anastasio, and the divinity student
Aylmer soon vanished amid the thoroughfares
There was a long day of toil and study,
fastings and penance, for the perverted
Aylmer, and there was not an hour of that
day that did not bring before him the
faces of his wife and little child, as he
saw them last on the snowy morning when
his Lucy with her Harry in her arms watched
him away, while he turned from her to the
gloomy brotherhood. He seemed to hear
LUCY AYLMER. 71
his own voice repeating over again the
vow made three years ago on that very day ;
and the words, " to love, honour and cherish,
till death us do part" rang like a knell on
his guilty ear.
Jaded, cast down, his mind enslaved,
his very thoughts subservient to the iron
rule of the priesthood, Robert Aylmer
walked the streets with eyehds bent and
drooping step towards his own home.
' Home,' was a strange word as associated with
those two gloomy rooms. Surely that church
must have great and wonderful fascinations
which could have induced him to quit his
own happy English nook !
He crossed himself and repeated prayers
against unholy thoughts, as slov\'ly he
mounted one by one the steep flight leading
to his abode of solitude, and sometimes of
despair. On reaching the topmost step, a
child's voice fell on his ear. He paused
and listened, it was an unusual sound on
his floor, though one or two children lived
When he had waited and listened two or
three minutes, he became convinced that the
72 LUCY AYLMER.
sound proceeded from liis own rooms. All
the mild Robert's anger was called forth at
intruders in his apartments, the outer door of
which he had forgotten to lock on leaving.
Softly Robert approached, intending, to take
the offenders by surprise, and rather trembling
for the safety of the valuable books lent by the
Robert was not yet practised in the art of
applying his ear to key-holes, together with
divers other lawful little ways and means of
discovering secrets ; so, directly his caution
had brought him quietly to his door, he
opened it and went in, picturing to himself
the surprise of the inmates. But surprise
awaited himself — startling, strange, magical.
He stood rooted to the doorway, and well-
nigh thought his senses gone, or that he were
in the world of spirits. A sweet breeze ran
through his usually close, hot room ; the
curtains were looped aside, and a flood of
unusual light came in. Had a fairy arranged
his books ? Had a fairy placed on the table
an English tea? Had a fairy adjusted furni-
ture, removed dust, placed sweet-scented
flowers on the empty stove? Had a fairy
LUCY AYLMER. 73
transplanted numberless little comforts from
his old vicarage home among the Somerset
The curtain drew back which divided his
rooms. Oh ! was she dead, and this her
spirit — or did the living Lucy stand before
him, arrayed in her pale summer dress, and
adorned with the light of her shining hair,
and in her arms that fair child, who buries
his face on her shoulder ? Oh ! Robert could
have fallen to the ground — but his wife's
arms are around him ; and the misguided,
erring man forgot months of sorrow, remorse,
battles against will, affections, and wept like
a child !
Patient, enduring one ! thou hast found thy
way to his heart at last ! Keep fast thy
hold, sweet one ! for Rome is ready to
fight with thee — even for thy husband's
74 mCT ATI.MER.
So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.
What will not woman, gentle woman, dare.
When strong affection stirs her spirit up ?
They sat side by side in the twilight, her
head resting on his shoulder — his arm twined
around her ; and the gentle voice he had so
loved in days now mingled with the past,
spoke to him once again, and told him in
whispered tones of their little one in Heaven.
No word of upbraiding, no questioning or
rebuke, had passed those meek lips ; love she
brought with her, and peace ! These suffused
LUCr ATLMER. 76
her very atmospliere like a fragrance from
above ; and the wear and tear of Hfe, with its
sorrows and its sins, seemed forgotten.
The present brought such a placid, sooth-
ing feeling with it, that Robert scarce dared
think or breathe, lest it should vanish again,
and leave before him only the sternness of
the inexorable past. He felt as if under the
influence of a dream. Was it possible, that
he, who only a few short hours ago had been
toiling among books of Catholic lore, trying
to forget the existence of every earthly tie,
and centre his heart, his hopes, on the cold,
stern Romish priesthood — should now be
listening to his wife's voice, watching her
every look, as if his life hung on her
smile ? He sat contemplating her for a long
time ; then, in a quick, anxious voice, he
" Lucy, are you well ?"
"Yes, Robert dearest. You do not
think me altered?" she asked, raising her
" It may be fancy, my own Lucy, yet I see
He looked so sadly grave, that Lucy
76 LUCY AYLMER.
laughed as she had not done for a long
" Robert, dear, I cannot allow that sad
look. You forget I have had a long journey,
and doubtless that gives me a weary appear-
"A long journey in quest of one alto-
gether unworthy !" he said in a stifled
" Come, Robert, I will not have vou under-
value yourself!" Lucy exclaimed, in a sweet
tone of playfulness.
" Oh ! Lucy, the past — the past !" Ro-
bert broke forth, in a sort of smothered
'' Robert, dearest, I know you do not wish
to grieve me," Lucy said; "but you could
not do it more, than by reverting to what has
gone by. The past is over, my own dear —
we have nothing to do with that now ; the
present is joy enough — and the future is
ours. It remains for us to make it joy-
Robert stooped over her, and as he kissed
her brow, he whispered ;
'' Only tell me you forgive !"
LUCY AYLMER. 77
"Yes, darling, if you can forgive me
coming and taking you by storm ?"
"Eight days' journey," he murmured,
" with no companion but a servant !"
" And our boy ! Robert, you must not
forget him. And then you do not remember
that my father and Maude accompanied me
as far as Paris. Dear papa, everything vras
so strange to him !"
" How could he part from you, my
" Papa has Maude — you had no one,"
she whispered. " Dear papa was never
"Oh! that I could say the same myself!"
interrupted Robert. " And would your father
trust you ?"
" He left everything to me," she replied ;
" and I had such a famous escort. There is
nothing like a travelled servant ; and Stevens,
Lady Plora's former maid, turned up so op-
portunely. I never knew I had made such
an impression upon her, till she pressed her
services, with an assurance that she would go
to Botany Bay with me I"
78 LUCY AYLMER.
Lucy spoke brightly and cheerfully. Even-
ing shadows gathered on, and Robert could
only see the outline of her face in the dark-
" This is a gloomy place, Lucy, and so
many stairs to mount. I must find you a
better home," Robert said.
"What is convenient for you, is good
enough for me, dear," she replied, " though
all these stairs must try you sadly."
"I am accustomed to them," he said ;
" but you will pine away, after the fresh air
In a low voice, Lucy added :
" Why not return there, Robert ?"
'* I dare not, Lucy ; my destiny is cast
She asked no explanation ; but his words
sent a feeling of desolation to her heart. She
tried to shake it off, and reahze that wherever
Robert was, there was home.
"Did you see Lady De Walden, Lucy?"
" No. Stevens went for your address, and
I waited with Harry at an hotel. I expected
LUCY AYLMER. 79
to have been here much earlier, but the
Countess had to send to the Marchesa Elmo,
and she again to her brother."
" Not Padre Anastasio ?" Robert exclaimed
in a startled tone.
" Yes ! that was the name. But he did not
know it was for me. The message went in
Lady De Walden's name."
" Lucy," Robert said, in a voice that terri-
fied her, " Padre Anastasio thinks I am
separated from you. I am studying with
him for the priesthood of the Holy Catholic
It was quite dark now, so Robert could
not see Lucy's face; but he fancied she
panted for breath, and he began to be
alarmed at her silence, when she said, in
a voice of forced composure :
" That accounts for the astonishment of the
porter when I arrived this afternoon ; but
when I showed him my card, and he saw the
name on the luggage, he allowed me to go
"He never told me any one was in my
80 LUCY AYLMER.
" I wanted to surprise you, dearest Robert.,
on the anniversary of our wedding-day."
Robert sighed. Priestly anger was coming
over him, and infusing terror into his heart.
His wife's heretic faith also stared him in the
face. He was bewildered and puzzled ; and
in the changeableness of his nature, he almost
wished Lucy had not found out his retreat.
He sat and pondered in silence over Padre
Anastasio's probable anger, and his being
compelled to abandon the idea of entering the
priesthood, till Stevens, for whom and the
little Harry Lucy had already engaged another
room, came in with a light. It fell across the
calm, sleeping face on his shoulder; and it
showed unmistakeable traces of change. The
dimpled freshness upon those soft cheeks, the
expression of perfect repose, these were there
no longer. There was a look of weariness
and exhaustion, of settled endurance and care,
that pained him to the very heart; and the
wavering, weak-minded young man forgot
church, priests — all, in the returning remorse
and anguish at what he had caused. It
was he who had rendered her young life sad ;
LUCY ATLMER. 81
he who had blighted her hopes, and crushed
her health ! She woke up suddenly, and saw
his eyes fixed anxiously upon her.
" I shall look brighter to-morrow, Robert,
indeed I shall," she said, as she rose up
to arrange the lamp which was burning dimly.
Robert watched her cross the room. Her
step was feeble — he thought her childish
elasticity was gone; and yet she looked so
young, so small and helpless that his pity
and remorse were increased. His best
feelings would have prompted him at once
to take her back to her Enghsh home.
His rehgion said, " remain here !" and it tri-
It was past eight o'clock the next morning.
Robert had gone out in quest of new rooms.
Those he occupied at present he had agreed
were too shut in, too high for his wife and
Uttle boy fresh from their free Somerset
hills. Lucy was employing herself, arranging
Robert's long neglected wardrobe. The little
Harry played on the floor with a few toys.
Stevens, who was well acquainted with Rome,
from frequent visits in the Countess's suite,
82 LUCY AYLMER.
had gone forth to make purchases for the
Lucy, bending over her work, and occasion-
ally kneeling down to amuse her little boy, was
startled by a knock at the door, which was
opened without waiting for permission ; and
rather to her alarm, an elderly priest stood in
the entrance. She instantly rose, and, bowing,
asked, in very good Italian, if the Padre were
seeking any one.
The old man repHed in English, that he
was seeking Mr. Aylmer; and he looked in-
tently at her from beneath his bushy eyebrows
as he spoke.
" My husband has gone out," she replied,
with an outward composure she was far from
The priest stared and muttered something to
himself in Latin. Lucy asked if he would leave
any message. He replied, " none," and fixed
his eyes on little Harry, who, ceasing his play,
looked wistfully and timidly at the stranger.
" You came last night, I believe ?" Padre
Anastasio said, addressing Lucy.
" 1 arrived in Rome yesterday," she repHed,
with quiet dignity.
LUCY AYLMER. 83
" And how long do you intend to remain ?"
he farther enquired.
" As long as my husband does," Lucy
" You are acquainted with Lady Anne
Erresford ?" he asked.
"Her sister is my aunt," Lucy replied,
wondering why he enquired.
" You cannot remain up at the top of this
house, in a student's lodgings," said the Padre.
" Your husband is preparing for the holy
office. If you remain at Rome, it must be as
boarder in a convent."
She looked imploringly up at the stern old
man, as she said, in gentle tones :
"My husband and I will never separate
The priest replied in a harsh voice :
" You are obstinate, Signora."
"Not obstinate, but firm. Padre," she
" Another word for the same thing," he
observed with a sarcastic smile.
" The words express a very different
meaning to me," Lucy quietly remarked.
84 LUCY AYLMER.
The priest glared at her a moment, then
" You cannot love your husband very
much ; for by coming here you blight all his
" Do you think so, Padre ?" she said in her
sweet, soft voice.
"Do I think so? Do I know it, you
mean? I can tell you something, Signora,"
he continued. " Since Robert Aylmer's resi-
dence here, the church has provided for him.
But, Signora, our church does not support
heretics like yourself, unless it is in a con-
"Padre," she said, gravely. "I did not
come here to claim the help of your
"Then you will be compelled to starve,"
he exclaimed, "for your husband is penni-
" Padre," she said, "I do not feel myself
called upon to discuss either my own
or my husband's affairs with a stranger."
" As soon as you knew them yourself, I
knew them, Signora," he replied. " Nothing is
LUCY AYLMER. 85
secret from me : I am your husband's con-
fessor," he cast on her a look of triumph.
" Then, Padre, if you know all, why ask me
any questions ?" she sighed deeply.
The old man turned away.
^' I go to seek your husband," he said.
Lucy trembled, a faintness came over her,
and she leant against the window-sill. Padre
Anastasio turned once again, and as he caught
sight of her meek, fair face, he murmured,
" She will easily be terrified into doing as
we wish !" He knew not the resolute, brave
soul within that frail frame !
Eagerly and anxiously Lucy awaited her
husband's return, but it was not till night-
fall Robert came back. He looked harassed,
and cast down, and instead of an affectionate
greeting to Lucy, he threw himself on a chair,
and rested his head on his outspread arms.
There was just the least possible shade of
alarm on Lucy's face, mingled with a great
deal of love and compassion. She gently ap-
proached Robert, and put her arm over his
" You have wearied yourself, dear Robert,"
86 LUCY AYLMER.
she said ; " let us remain here, if other rooms
are difficult to find."
"We cannot remain here, Lucy," he
replied, raising his head with a sudden jerk
that displaced his arm ; " how can I live, I, a
penniless man, supported at the expense of the
" Robert ! I shall be no additional expense
to you," Lucy said in a very low tone, " there
is still Sir Edgar's legacy untouched, and next
May I come of age, and take possession of my
mother's httle property. I will not be any
burden on you, dearest."
" But what am I to do ?" Robert asked, in
a fretful tone. " I am fit for no employment,
but that of the priesthood."
Lucy stood still with her hands crossed, her
old childish attitude. Robert did not look
towards her, or surely his heart would have
melted. There was entire silence in that
great room for some minutes, and then Lucy
said meekly :
" There is enough to support us all, dear
Robert, or if you wish for more I can work.
I dare say I could give English lessons."
LUCY AYLMER. 87
" That is all folly," Robert replied, throwing
his face forward, and covering it with his
Lucy perfectly shook with agitation, and
bitter tears overflowed those soft eyes.
"Robert, dear," she said, submissively,
" only tell me what you would have me
" Return to your father, Lucy," he repHed ;
"would to Heaven I had never taken you
from your home ! Oh, Lucy, I am a wretched,
distracted creature. Do not add to my
" I would not for worlds, dear Robert," she
" But while you are with me, you do," he
almost groaned. " Lucy, it has been shown
me clearly, that the priesthood is my vocation,
and I dare not shrink from it. There is only
one obstacle in the way — it is yourself — Lucy.
We must part, and I be to you as dead — for-
gotten^ — as though we had never met."
Lucy closed her eyes, and covered them
with her hand, as if to shut out some vision
too dreadful for sight.
88 LUCY AYLMER.
Robert went on in the same unnatural,
" Feel for me, Lucy, feel for my soul, and
do not make me sacrifice eternity for a short
space of earthly love !"
" These are not your own words, Robert,
my husband," Lucy said, as she knelt down,
and rested her clasped hands on his knee.
" Your heart, unprompted, would never speak
thus ; Robert, you recollect your promise three
years ago. Oh, do not break it now
" Ah, Lucy !" he said, " on that day you
promised to obey me — the obedience I ask is
not difficult. You will be happier far with your
father than with me — our creeds differ widely ;
and our paths are separate. Lucy, again I
ask you, tempt me not to sacrifice eternity "
Her voice nearly died away as she said :
" Robert, dear, I shall love you till death.
Nothing but that can tear me from you !" she
pulled away one of his hands from his face,
and covered it with her kisses and her
" Oh, Lucy, Lucy !" he exclaimed bitterly,
" must I yield ! If the Church — if my faith
LUCY AYLMER. 89
did not demand it otherwise of me ! but every
holy feehng in my soul bids me press on — do
not break my heart !"
" Robert," Lucy said in a calm voice, " think
of Harry ! oh, dear husband ! you loved him so
much once V
" Lucy, if we part, he shall be yours — to
love you, to care for you, to be brought up in
your faith. If you remain, the Church
demands it of me, that, as soon as he arrives
at years of discernment, she receives him from
me into her pale."
" When every earthly hope fails me," she
said, in a scarcely audible voice, " I must
turn to Heaven and look there !" she rose
and moved away, but a sudden impulse
compelled her to turn back, and stooping
down she wdiispered, '' The first sermon you
ever preached at Forsted, was from the words
" Look up !" Robert dear ! " the remembrance
of you from the past shall be my comfort !" she
stood a moment by his side, then seeing he
did not notice her, she went away, and knelt
in mute and tearless agony by the couch of
her sleeping child; then she remembered
what Cecil had said when he brought her the
VOL III. E 4
90 LUCY AYLMER.
news of her husband's flight from St. Mar-
garet's. "It is very stormy now — but peace
cannot be far oflP."
"Peace — peace!" Lucy murmured, "there
will be peace in Heaven 1"
While Lucy knelt in silence and in dark-
ness, the Padre Anastasio conversed with the
Lady Anne in one of the Marchesa Elmo's
" My mind is quite made up," her Lady-
ship said, in her wonted proud tones. " I
purpose next week making a public profession
of my faith, and Holy Pather, I crave your
blessing on the occasion."
The Padre bowed in silent acquiescence.
"You look tristey to-night. Padre," Lady
" My soul is quite bowed down," the
priest repUed, " with grief for one of my
" You speak of Mr. Aylmer," Lady Anne
remarked, " my mother tells me, his wife has
" May she be added to the only true fold,"
ejaculated the Pather piously.
"Even your persuasions will fail there,"
LUCY ATLMER. 91
Lady Anne continued. " In spite of that
childlike meekness of manner, there is a deep-
rooted firmness of character, which nothing
" You know her well," Padre Anastasio
remarked, carelessly handling a bronze within
" I knew them both before they married,
and did my utmost to prevent it — that was the
wrong act of Mr. Aylmer's life."
" I understood from you, Signora, there had
been a formal separation," the Padre said in
"Mr. Mostyn of St. Margaret's was my
informant," Lady Anne replied.
The Padre looked thoughtful a few moments,
then he addressed Lady Anne, " Could you
not, as a good and faithful daughter of the
church, use your influence in the conversion
of the young wife of Mr. Aylmer ?"
" I rarely fail in anything I undertake, but
failure would be certain there," replied her
Ladyship, " The best thing any one can do, is
to persuade her to return to England."
"And consent to a divorce," added the
92 LUCY AYLMER.
" Another impossibility," said Lady Anne.
" I never saw any one so blindly attracted to
her husband as Mrs. Aylmer."
" Our church removes mountains," rejoined
the Padre, with a courtly smile.
" I wish it success in this case, from my
heart, but jen doute /" observed her Lady-
" Any influence that Mrs. Aylmer may have
with her husband, is but transitory,'' said the
" The little creature has great fascination,
and knows how to play her part well,"
remarked Lady Anne. " It would not astonish
me if she drew him back to apostacy ! There
has been an extraordinary attachment between
them, dating from childhood ; and few men
can resist such persuasion and tears as she
will poiir forth."
*• Signora, do you not speak a little too
lightly of his faUing back ?" said Padre
" Lightness was not meant," she said,
twirling carelessly a handsome fan. " You do
not know how much I have had at heart the
welfare of that weak young man. Both Mr.
LUCY AYLMER. 93
Mostyn and I were persevering in our
arguments and persuasions."
" Twice they have been effectual with the
husband. Why should they not be equally so
with the wife?"
" Padre, you do not know her. Had she been
of a temperament like my sister, it would have
been an easy work for her husband to persuade,
or alarm her into our views ; but my brother
Cecil could not be more obstinate than
*' Lucie — ah ! that is a meek and gentle
name," murmured the priest.
Lady Anne turned her head suddenly
round towards the crowd of guests, and close
by, apparently absorbed in the contemplation
of a fine Correggio, she saw Lord Glendowan.
The priest looked that way also, and there
was an expression on his countenance, which
seemed to say, " I like thee not ;" but Lord
Glendowan's eyes were fixed intently on the
painting. Now he drew near, now moved back-
wards, then raised his double glasses ; by and
bye he let these fall and looked around, and
his eyes and Padre Anastasio's met.
" I am charmed to meet you, my Lord,"
94 LUCY ATLMER.
said the priest. " What report of your lady
" She left to-day in flourishing health for
Scotland," he repHed, pushing his hat from
off his forehead.
"Milord remains alone?" said the priest,
" Yes ! it suits my pleasure pour le moment.
The Marchesa has added considerably to her
collection of paintings, Monsieur."
" Considerably,'' said the priest. " Are
there any new arrivals to-day of EngKsh tra-
" None of note, I believe."
" Nor yesterday ; no acquaintances of
your own ?"
" One meets with acquaintances every-
where — they turn up by some means," re-
plied Lord Glendowan.
The priest bit his under lip and scowled ;
then turning to Lady Anne, who was silently
regarding the many groups, he said, with a
courtly inclination, " I must seek the noble
Countess, and offer her my congratulations
on her son-in-law's accession to rank."
LUCY ATLMER. 95
Lord Glendowan's attention was instantly-
"Lady Sangford is a proud wife," con-
tinued the priest, " for talent, my dear lady,
is power and strength."
Lord Glendowan fixed his eyes again on
the Correggio, and a mournftd expression
pervaded his countenance.
" Lord Sangford is an honour to his pro-
fession," said Lady Anne "Our family is
completely reconciled now."
" Ah ! your sister was a little hardly used,"
said the padre : " it was but the hastiness of
Lord Glendowan still gazed at his painting
and sighed ; the priest and Lady Anne
moved away. Shortly after, Robert Aylmer
mingled with the crowd of guests.
It was early in September, and at an ex-
quisite villa some twenty miles from London
among the hills of Surrey, a large party were
assembled at dinner.
Maude Neville and Cecil Erresford sat
96 LUCY AYLMER.
side by side. The Squire was there, his
sister, Lord De Walden and sundry grand
cousins of that noble house, and last, though
not least among the guests, were the noble
Countess De Walden and the Lady Anne.
The table and sideboard groaned beneath
the weight of plate, matchless in design and
beauty ; the choicest exotics filled the centre ;
the rarest fruits graced the desert ; at each
comer rose and fell a fountain of fragrant
perfumes ; musicians stationed in the hall,
played at intervals well-chosen airs.
Pleasant feelings pervaded the elegant
assembly. The Countess's feathers waved
gracefully. Lady Anne's voice sounded cheer-
fully. By and bye, an Earl cousin, with a lisp
and a bad address, rose and made a speech,
when all eyes were directed towards the noble
host and hostess ; and the noble hostess in
her splendid lace and brilliants, smiled as she
had rarely smiled before, and Lord Sangford
rose and made a speech in her name and his,
in which he expressed his delight at the
family reconciliation. Then Flora moved;
and lace, feathers, velvets, and briUiants,
LUCT AYLMER. 97
sailed forth to the matchless drawing-room,
and lounged on couches of white and rose
satin, and toyed with feather screens — while
the congratulations of the gentlemen were
again tendered to Archer Tyrrell — Lord
98 LUCr AYLMER.
There is a comfort in the strength of love,
'Twill make a thing endurable, which else
Would overset the brain, or break the heart.
The wife wliom Robert had chosen as the
sharer of his home, his happiness, and his
love — the wife, who before he had won her,
seemed to his heart's imagination, the sweetest
jewel upon earth — and during the time they
passed together, proved herself as angelic, as
loving, as devoted, as his brightest di-eam had
e'er conceived — this wife, so unselfish, so
gentle, was now the greatest burden — the one
care of Robert Aylmer's Hfe. He wished to
enter the Romish priesthood. It was to this
LUCY AYLMER. 99
end he had left Ackington, that dreary winter
night. But his Lucy, his "pale violet," as
Archer had once called her, was the barrier,
the one obstacle, that shut him firmly out
from enrolling himseK among the dark- browed,
dark-clad throng, who crowd the cathedrals
and churches of the Eternal City.
The Padre Anastasio and his brethren no
longer supported their victim, at the church's
expense ; he had left his student's lodgings,
and resided in a small house, whose upper
windows took in a glimpse of the distant
Campagna. All the lower part was unlet, and
belonged to an ancient man called Pietro, who
used to smile on Lucy as she passed in and
out, speaking pleasant, sweet words, and
making her Httle Harry kiss his tiny hand to
the old man.
Her boy was her only earthly pleasure
now, for the little wife lived a strange,
solitary life ; almost the whole of the day her
husband was absent from her ; he either left
voluntarily, or Padre Anastasio fetched him
away, after a few grimly uttered words to the
frightened Lucy, on her obstinacy in depriving
her husband of the inestimable privileges a
100 LUCY AYLMER.
membership with the priesthood would have
gained him !
Two months had elapsed since Lucy
Aylmer first joined her husband in E,ome,
two long, weary months, daring which,
Robert had seemed to her each day to grow
more strange. At times, a little of his fond
manner returned ; then again, he was so cold,
so shrinking and silent, that he appeared
under some vow of increased austerity. Lucy
had not one single friend with whom she
could hold intimate converse. The Countess
and Lady Anne, had long since left Rome ;
new friends, in her strange position, she
dared not make, nor did she trust herself to
write more letters than absolutely necessary to
her home relations. She had httle to tell, and
dreaded to excite their fears for her happiness,
and so be the cause of bringing to her either
her father or her sister, who, she was sure
would instantly take her back to England.
Poor forlorn, lone one ! their love and
sympathy would have been more sweet to her
than words could express ; but self was not
mingled with her daily life, except in so far as
it could be made subservient to the one object
LUCY AYLMER. 101
for which she came, for which she endured
and suffered ; the winning back her husband
to her love, from the miserable asceticism in
which he now lived. One thing carried Lucy
along her otherwise almost unbearable way,
and that was, the hope of final victory over
Father Anastasio and his influence. She
looked to Heaven for aid, and surely she
would not look in vain. But daily her road
grew darker, her hope less distinct. During
the last few days the priest had been pressing
Lucy to consent to a separation, without which
her husband could not enter the priest-
hood. Not one word of anger had the priest
drawn forth from her meek lips — all his persua-
sions were in vain, and made no impression
on the gentle, but courageous girl.
Lucy sat one afternoon at the high window —
her work in her hand — her child playing on the
floor, at her feet. Her needle plied dihgently,
and she only now and then raised her eyes to
look across the distant landscape, and up at
the dear blue canopy of heaven, with which
her thoughts seemed communing. She was
so intent, so preoccupied, that she did not
hear a low knock, and was rather startled,
102 LUCY ATLMER.
when on raising her eyes, the door opened,
and the Lady Anne Erresford, accompanied
by her attendant Agnese, entered the room.
Lucy rose instantly, and a pink flush suffused
her deUcate countenance. What a vision of
byegone days ! Her lady visitor called to her
mind visions of her country home as it had
been formerly — the remembrance of her first
meeting with the Lady Anne, rose speedily to
"Mrs. Aylmer, I hope I am not in-
truding on you," were her Ladyship's first
" Oh no ! it is kind of you to come to me,"
Lucy replied, as she invited Lady Anne to her
own vacant chair. " Agnese, I hope you are
well, pray be seated."
Agnese in the humblest manner seated
herself close to the door, and tried to make
friends with little Harry; who, however,
rejected all her offers of friendship, and posting
himself beneath a table, peered at her from
behind the table-cloth.
" Have you been long in Rome, Lady
Anne?" Lucy asked, as they sat confronting
each other by the window.
LUCY ATLMER. 103
" Oh no ! I only arrived yesterday morning.
I winter here," she added, eyeing Lucy with
a strange, frigid stare.
" Have you travelled alone ?" Lucy enquired.
" Simply with Agnese for my companion.
I am staying as guest with the Marchesa
Elmo — charming, dehghtful woman, is she
" I only know her by name," Lucy timidly
" Strange — ^but how is that ? Your husband
visits intimately there. I met him last night
at the Palazzo."
Lucy's eyes fell, and her cheek reddened
beneath Lady Anne's gaze. She could have
told how she knew nothing of her husband's
movements ; but this meek wife never com-
plained, so she only asked if Lady Anne
thought Robert looking well ?
" Not very blooming," was the reply, " he
appears harassed ; but you, Mrs. Aylmer, you
are terribly altered !"
" Am I ?" Lucy said with a smile at Lady
Anne's earnest manner.
"My dear creature, do you never look
in the glass? Tliis city does not suit
104 LUCY AYLMER.
you, I see plainly. You should return to
"It is not convenient at present/' Lucy
"You cannot possibly have anything
to detain you here," urged her Lady-
" It suits my husband to remain/' Lucy
" That surely is no reason why you should
waste your health in a place which does not
agree with you ?"
" My husband's home must be mine/' was
Lucy's calm reply.
" That is a folly ! pardon me the expres-
sion/' said Lady Anne, her manner becoming
more dictatorial. " A husband cannot always
be tied to his wife."
" No 1" rephed Lucy in a strangely thrilling
tone, " death can part them !"
" Tush ! you must entertain no such dismal
thought. You, a little flower made to dance
along through Hfe, are not fit to dwell in this
gloomy house, with a husband wTapped up
in himself— depend upon it, Mrs. Aylmer,
you are best separated. Nothing in this world
LUCY AYLMER. 105
will ever make your husband cheerful or
happy, but the life he has chosen, the priest-
hood. Why stand in his way ? You have a
happy English home to which to go, a kind
father, an affectionate sister to receive you —
and clearly to me with them your life ought
to be spent. Your troubles will soon pass
away, and the happy Forsted girl return
With a calm dignity of manner of which
Lady Anne never thought her capable, Lucy
" Padre Anastasio has broached this sub-
ject before. It is not a pleasant one, and I
think in friendly conversation, we should do
well to avoid it."
" As you please," Lady Anne replied, " but
believe me, child, the Padre and myself have
your soul's welfare at heart. You injure y j
Lucy's colour alternated rapidly from red
to white, and a peculiarly distressed expres-
sion played around her mouth; it hovered
there a moment, then changed into a soft,
sweet smile, as she addressed Lady Anne
106 LUCY AYLMER.
with inquiries after her friends in Eng-
" They are all in health, I beheve," Lady
Anne replied, for the first time turning her
cold, dark eyes on little Harry, who still
continued his inquiring gaze at his mother's
new visitors. " I think your child must feel
the change," she added.
" Not at all," Lucy replied ; " it is a
comfort to me to see him so bloom-
Just at this juncture, little Harry, not
liking the look of Lady Anne's large eyes,
pulled a corner of the table-cloth down before
him, to conceal himself from her view, in
which achievement he suceeded in upsetting
an ink-stand on the floor. This disturbed
the conversation, and Lady Anne took
herself and her attendant away, saying,
as she left the room, in patronizing
" I shall very often come to see you, Mrs,
Poor Lucy ! As she assisted Stevens in
removing the ink-spots from the floor, she
LUCY AYLMER. 107
sighed, and thought that Lady Anne al-
ways seemed to fall as a blight upon
Lucy waited for tea some time that even-
ing before Robert returned ; and when he
did come in, he was silent and moody.
Lucy wheeled a chair for him to the
"You look very tired, Robert, dear,"
she said, casting on him an anxious
" I am," he replied, throwing his head
back. " I am very weary and wretched."
" Hush, Robert, darling ! there is nothing
to make you wretched," Lucy said.
" So you think," he replied, impatiently ;
"but it is enough to make me wretched
to see you and Harry cooped up here, out
of the way of every friend or comfort,
and to know that I can do nothing for
" Dear Robert ! do not make yourself un-
happy about us. I am sure Harry and I are
very bonnie ; and as to friends, one has turned
up only this afternoon,"
108 LUCY AYLMER.
" Lady Anne Erresford ! But you do not
"She is rather stiff; but I suppose she
cannot help that. And, you know, we ought
to overlook faults in our connections. I dare
say I appear as strange to her as she does to
"What did she talk about?" Robert
" Principally generalities," Lucy replied.
"She 4ad Agnese with her, and she was
rather a restraint."
" Agnese is an excellent young woman,"
Robert remarked, as Lucy handed him his
tea, and some cake she had been making from
an English receipt.
"She seems much attached to Lady
Anne," Lucy replied. The little wife never
argued with her husband.
" You have been wear}dng yourself to
death this morning by cooking, 1 know,
Lucy ?" Robert said, looking up.
" So far from it fatiguing me, dear, I en-
joyed it," Lucy replied.
"That Stevens is so helpless!" Robert
LUCY AYLMEB. 109
said. "You want some bustling, practical
per^n who could give you more assistance.
The Marchesa told me of one or two such
" Oh ! Robert dear, I would so much
rather not part wdth Stevens !" Lucy ex-
claimed, in a little alarm.
''Our boy will never learn Italian with
her," Robert remarked ; " with a native he
would acquire it easily."
"I will teach him words," Lucy said,
smiling. "Do not fear, Robert, there is
plenty of time yet to make our baby-boy a
" Poor child !" sighed Robert.
Lucy closed her eyes, and was silent for a
moment. Was she Hfting up one of her
frequent prayers to Heaven ?
Robert finished his tea in thoughtful ab-
straction; and not all Lucy's efforts could
draw him into conversation. When the
table was cleared, he took from a desk pens
and paper, and commenced casting up a long
column of accounts. Lucy worked dihgently,
and the clicking of her needle was the only
sound in that dull room. Presently Robert
110 LUCY AYLMER.
laid his pen down, with the exclama-
" Padre Anastasio was right. I have cal-
culated over and over again, and with every
economy we cannot live here under three
hundred a year — he told me so ; and yet
with that there is not one comfort to be
procured for you."
" Men do not know anything about house-
keeping," Lucy said, in a cheerful tone. " I
wish you would not trouble your head at all
about such things, dear old husband ! We
shall not starve so long as Sir Edgar's legacy
lasts, and if we are not more extravagant
than at present, it will carry us on for many
a long year ; and after my next birthday,
there will be one whole hundred a year to add
to it ! Dear Robert ! do throw away those
papers, we really are quite rich !" Lucy had
come round, and knelt on the floor by Robert ;
her hand resting on his arm. He turned his
head and rested his gaze on her a moment,
then leaning his head on the table, he burst
into an agony of tears. Lucy's face became
strangely pale, and a tremulous motion played
around her lips ; but she used great command
LUCY ATLMER. Ill
over herself, and rising, she said playfully,
"Now, Robert, I call this very naughty— I
really do. Little Harry could not be worse.
Come, Robert, rouse yourself, and I will play
at chess with you, or sing to you — only do
not be dull, it is so bad for your health : no-
thing wears people so much as tears — ^you
used to be so bonnie, Robert dear !"
He encircled one arm around her, and
rested his head on her shoulder.
" Oh ! Lucy, Lucy !" he groaned. " What
am I to do — only tell me what I am to do ?
I love you dearly, dearly. But, oh Lucy 1 my
soul claims my first care, my first soHcitude ;
and these good sons of the church tell me
daily that 1 am sacrificing my soul to you —
that I must either renounce my religion, or
renounce you ! When 1 arrived in this place,
I made a vow to enter the priesthood. I am
breaking the vow, Lucy — as you love me, tell
me what I am to do ?"
" Stay with me, Robert, and never ask me
to leave you !" Lucy replied in an earnest
tone, in which alarm was mingled.
"When the church commands me other-
1 L2 LUCY AYLMER.
wise ? Oh, Lucy, if you would only leave your
heretic faith ?" he said persuasively.
" Dear Robert, the church in which I was
baptised, is the church in which I should
wish to die !" she replied, in a low soft
" So I thought once," he exclaimed ; " but a
great change has passed over me since those
dark days. Lucy, in moral worth you are
perfect, but in spiritual goodness you are in
error — fearful error ! When 1 think of you,
Lucy, I am like a man in despair !"
"Despair not for me, my own husband,"
she said sweetly. " I have no fear. If death
were to come to-morrow, I might tremble at
the dark river I should have to pass ; but in
the thought of a hereafter, I feel perfect
" Lucy, do not speak of dying !" he ex-
claimed. " Oh, miserere ! miserere ! Would
to Heaven I had never taken you from your
happy home 1"
" I have never once regretted it," she said
gently. " No, no, dear, so far from that, I
thank God daily for having given me to
LUCY AYLMER. 113
He looked a long wistful look at her calm
spiritual countenance ; then he said :
*'0h, Lucy, I thought you would have
upbraided me !"
"That would not be mfe-like or dutiful
on my part," Lucy said playfully. " Now
Robert, we will not talk any more so lu-
gubriously — what can I do to amuse you ?"
Robert started up. An old French time-
piece on a bracket opposite him played a
merry galloping little tune, then in shrill
tones it struck nine.
" I ought to have been there now," he
said, "Padre Anastasio expects Mostyn. I
promised to meet him. Lucy, I must leave
" Come back quickly," she softly mur-
mured, then added, I did not know Mr.
Mostyn was in Rome."
" He has come to enter the priesthood,
blessed man ! he has renounced all to follow
his master !"
" Do you not dress, Robert ?" she
" It is no assembly," he rephed, " only
114 LUCY AYLMER.
the presence of two saintly ones I go into,
and there the world is forgotten — My hat —
where is it ? I shall be late." He hastened to
find it, while Lucy lighted a candle, and ac-
companied him down stairs.
" Do not be long, Robert," she said as
Pietro opened the outer door, and watched
Robert, and then turning to Lucy he said,
'^ Buona notte, Signora.'' Lucy smiled and
wished him good night in her turn ; and the
old man looked after her as she toiled up the
stairs, the flickering light falhng over her
face sadder, sweeter, more heavenly than it
had ever before appeared to his eyes, and he
muttered in his kindly old voice, " Che Bio la
mette in Paradiso, che la coronava r He
asked a sweet boon for her, never thinking
how soon it might be granted.
Lucy closed the door of her room after her
feebly, and sinking down on a chair,
gasped for breath. Stevens who had just
before entered to hght her mistress's lamp,
held in her arms the pale Lucy panting,
struggling as though life and , death held
warfare. The struggle lasted but a few
LUCY ATLMER. 115
moments, then with a heavy sigh, Lucy sat
upright and smiled.
" Dear, ma'am, you have been overdone
again 1" said Stevens anxiously.
" I was foohsh not to take any air to-day,"
Lucy replied in a trembling tone. " I am so
thankful yom^ master was not here : it would
have distressed him — pray do not mention it,
"You are very considerate, ma'am," Ste-
" It is only right, Stevens, to think of the
happiness of others. I am sorry I frightened
you so much."
" Oh ! never mind me, ma'am. My being a
little alarmed is nothing to what you must
" It was very dreadful while it lasted — it
felt like dying. I have heard my mother
used to be just so sometimes."
" I wonder what it was ?" Stevens said,
" and there is no brandy or anything in the
house to give you."
" It is no consequence," Lucy murmured
faintly. " I do not think it will return again ;
there is some Eau de Cologne in my room,
116 LUCY AYLMER.
if you will open one of the windows. I
shall be better."
" You will not sit up for master, ma'am ?"
Stevens asked in alarm.
" Oh yes ! I shall try. You know I always
do/' Lucy replied rising, and walking feebly
to the open window.
" I wish we were all back at Forsted, that I
do !" Stevens said almost crying as she went
to her mistress's room to fetch the Eau de
"Oh ! how thankful I am," Lucy murmured
to herself. " How grateful I ought to be that
I did not die. I should like, if it please God,
to live for my husband and child — to live a
long time for them !"
Oh ! was her husband Avorthy of such a
wife ? It scarcely seems so, or why did he
leave her to-night ?
At a table in a large scantily furnished
room sat the Padre Anastasio and the holy
Hubert the quondam brother of St. Margaret's,
Ackington, now carried by an easy transition
from the topmost bar of Tractarianism into
the fold of the protecting mother, Rome. They
were conversing on something important. What
LUCY AYLMER. 117
could it be? One of the Padre's remarks
was, " there is still an insurmountable obstacle
in his way."
" The one great obstacle/' replied Mostyn,
" in the way of the English priesthood, is mar-
riage — Thank heaven," he added with consi-
derable fervour, " I ever kept from it."
"You have cause to be grateful indeed,"
muttered the Padre. " Robert is still
completely in the dark as regards his future
"His wife is immoveable of course," ob-
" Oh ! obstinate, obstinate as stock or
stone !" exclaimed the priest. " Nothing moves
her ; and, moreover, she still retains influence
over her husband."
" Not heretical influence ?" Mostyn asked,
" Oh, no, not that," exclaimed the Padre,
" but a sentimental childish influence, which
is very detrimental to his strength of cha-
" Cannot you persuade her to return
home ?" Mostyn enquired.
" I do not know what time may effect, but
118 LUCr AYLMER,
as her mind is at present disposed, you
might as easily try to remove mountains."
" Will Aylmer come to you to-night,
Padre ?" said Mostyn.
"He promised, and his word he always
keeps. Oh ! that we had him once safe
within our holy priesthood 1"
"If Mrs. Aylmer were only of our faith,
we might convince her then of the good
accruing to her husband's soul by a separa-
tion," remarked Mostyn.
The priest shrugged his shoulders. " Wo-
man's obstinacy, my brother, woman's ob-
"And yet, Padre, I have known so many
convinced. In my own parish of Ackington,
two daughters of the leading man there are
now within the true fold, while a third is
fast following in her excellent sisters' steps.
Then two young persons of obscure paren-
tage, farm servants, I believe, have thrown
themselves on the protection of the Church,
and many others could I mention from the
testimony of brother priests. Say you not.
Padre, there is hope for England yet ?"
" Bright and glorious hope, my son, that
LUCY AYLMER. 119
the noble isle will return to her pure and
pristine faith ! We have fellow workers in
well nigh every town and village, working
hard and zealously, and with every hope of
success. I own there is strong opposition ;
but is there not also a strong current flowing
w^ith and towards us ? Oh ! blessed be
the saints ! for England, we can lift high the
banner of hope !"
" And so many of the heretical faith are
working for us," Hubert said.
" Working boldly for us, and only waiting
as you yourself did, to throw off" the trammels
at the right moment, and come and join us
heart and hand. Welcome, thrice welcome !
brother 1" The Padre held out his hand
and grasped that of Mostyn.
At this moment, the door slowly opened,
and Robert Aylmer entered.
" Holy father 1 I am late in keeping my
engagement with you. I must plead great
bodily fatigue as an excuse — Ha, Mostyn !
it rejoices me to meet you once more, and
especially here on holy ground."
" We often on the terrace walk at St.
120 LUCY AYLMER.
Margaret's talked of this happy time,'* re-
"When we should both meet as disciples
of the one true faith," Robert exclaimed.
" There is a wide difference yet between
you, my sons," observed the crafty Anas-
A hot colour suffused Robert's face, while
Hubert bent his holy eyes meekly on the
" Which is the richest— which the most
blessed — which the most worthy the love of
our blessed, most pure mother?" the priest'
began, " he, who, renouncing all earthly ties,
gives body, soul and spirit to serve the
ancient and only Church; or he, who en-
tramelled by the voice of earth, breaks his
vow, and turns his back on the work our holy
mother wills him to do ?"
There was a moment's silence after this
harangue, then Robert's voice timidly broke
" Padre 1 I feel your rebuke deeply, poig-
nantly, the worse from knowing how I merit
it. Yet how totally unable am I to place my-
LUCY AYLMER. 1.21
self side by side with my brother in the sacred
" There speaks the flesh 1" Padre Anasta-
sio broke forth, with a fiery flash in his deep,
" You cannot feel for me, Padre," Robert
rephed ; " you have never experienced like
temptations, like sorrows. I took my wife
from her home ; made her legally mine : I dare
not by force cast her off" — nothing can be done,
but by her free consent."
" Is my son sure he always does his utmost
in persuasion and argument with his heretic
wife ?" said the Padre, in bland but firm
" I dare not torture her with words,"
Robert said, in a shghtly impatient voice.
"You care not for her soul," was the
priest's stern rejoinder.
"I do, holy father ! beHeve me, I do !" ex-
claimed Robert. '' Believe me, her soul is
dearer to me than my life. Heaven would not
be Heaven, did I not meet Lucy there !"
A dark scowl, for a moment, o'erspread the
countenance of the ecclesiastic ; but Robert
VOL. III. G
122. LUCY ATLMER.
saw it not, his eyes rested in perplexed sadness
on tiic floor.
" Should your wife die an unbeliever, a
heretic," said the priest, " expect you, young
man, that Heaven will receive her ?"
" Padre, I dare not think of it. The Church
tells me, nay, and the knowledge makes my
"Then, brother, if you so love her, your
whole soul's energies should be given to save
her from eternal condemnation," the holy
Hubert remarked in- solemn tones.
" Even so, my son," replied the Padre, with
passionate earnestness, " for hear me once
again — there are good men and women found
out of the Church, but a saint never. There is
no salvation out of the Apostolic Church — no
man, woman, or child can, or ever has been
saved, unless it is by the will of our holy
mother Church, and beneath her sheltering
The holy Hubert bowed his head in mute
acquiescence. Robert groaned :
" Oh, Padre ! Padre ! help me to win
over the blinded, misguided one to the true
LUCl AYLMER. 123
"But in case she will not hear me/' said
" She must, she will hear you in time !"
exclaimed Robert, bitterly. " Visit her daily,
father : oh ! give her not up, though the work
cost days, nay years of the wisest, most
solemn persuasion !"
" My son, it shall be even as you wish ; and
should our prayers and entreaties avail, great
will be tlie church's triumph ; then with ease
shall we persuade oiu* daughter to seek an
asylum among the church's chosen ones, and
*you will be free to enrol yourself a worthy
son, a bright ornament among the church's
working members ; and thus though for ever
parted from earth's ties, you will be one in
holiness, faithfulness and love !"
Then did the Padre, with glowing coun-
tenance and tones of animation discant on
the heavenliness of the church, her purity,
her zeal, her antiquity, her divine origin —
her charital)leness — her love — and the joyful
triumph of the faithful who continue firm to
the end, the transcendental glories they shall
receive, the dazzling crown — the high place in
124 LUCY AYLMER.
Robert heard all with breathless eagerness,
and with a flush of painful excitement on his
face. He parted with the priest's blessing
upon him, and went back to his dreary rooms
to find his wife, that " lost heretic " reading
by the light of a dismal lamp, with sweet
and composed mien, from a well-worn Bible,
a description of the heavenly glories as de-
picted in the Apocalypse, and of the martyrs
who shall tread the golden streets of the
Fivm faith and deep submission to high Heaven
Will teach us to endure without a murmur
What seems so hard.
True to his promise, Padre Anastasio
visited daily at Aylraer's rooms, and con-
versed with fervour, zeal and enthusiasm.
Plainly and without any disguise he told
Lucy she was lost — then showed her salva-
tion, not by the Cross, but by membership
with the one Catholic church. With untiring
patience and gentleness, Lucy heard this
strange and startling doctrine; which, how-
ever, made not the sHghtest impression upon
her. Her faith, founded on the Bible, was as
firm as a rock ; neither persecution nor tribu-
lation could shake it.
] 26 LUCY AYLMER.
Outwardly the Padre was very composed
and respectful in his manner towards Lucy ;
but in his inmost heart he oftentimes longed
to shake her, and thought if he had her once
within the pale of his own church, how many
severe penances he Avould inflict on her, for
her obstinate heresy. Besides the Padre's
harassing, tedious visits, the Lady Anne also
contributed her share towards making Lucy's
life miserable, the Padre having persuaded
her Ladyship to aid him in the work of con-
version ; but she did not play her part at all
skilfully, her proud nature could not liumble
itself, nor her cold heart soften. She had not
yet learned Jesuitical tact ; instead of pursuing
a circuitous course to explain her meaning in
haughty words, she expressed it at once,
thereby distressing Lucy, and so defeating her
object, which was to persuade Lucy to con-
sent to a separation, and enter a convent, or
in case she continued obsthiate in her creed,
to return to England.
Lady Anne's visits were even more painful
than the Padre's ; and to avoid them Lucy
took long and frequent walks, till the hour
for Lady Anne's drive had passed by; and
then the forlorn girl crept home, her strength
LUCY AYLMER. 127
exhausted, and her mind saddened by the
solitude. All her life-time she had been the
object of the tenderest love, and now she no
longer experienced this, she pined impercepti-
bly after it.
Privations also added to her declining
health ; every luxury, nay, eveiy comfort to
which she had been accustomed, she denied
herself, that she might have more to spend on
her husband and child. Sir Edgar's legacy
was handsome ; but it slipped fast through
her fingers. Numberless demands were made
on her husband for charities and donations to
various churches, and these Robert dared not
refuse, hanng been himself supported so long
at the church's expense. It was almost
enougli to make that staunch old Protestant,
Sir Edo-ar, rise from his orrave, to see the wav
his legacy to the " pretty little Miss Neville"
was fast falling into the hands of that verv
church he so hated and abhorred.
It. was the festival of All Saints, Robert's
birth-day. Lucv had made him some pretty
book-markers, and purchased a bouquet to
grace the breakfast table. Robert's spirits
seemed to revive with her cheerfulness, and
128 LUCY AYLMER.
to Lucy's joy he proposed to take a walk with
her, a treat she had never once enjoyed during
her three months' residence in Rome.
" We must not go very far, or you will be
tired," said Robert.
" Not with you," she replied. " I am never
weary where you are, Robert."
" Poor Lucy, you do not see much of me,"
he said. " My church is exacting, she requires
a great deal of a soul that desires to be saved,
that is her only fault — but hush ! I should
not have said this," he added, looking round
" We are quite alone, Robert," Lucy
said, with a pitying expression on her coun-
" One never knows when one is alone
here, it is such a busthng place," Robert
replied, still casting his eyes nervously
" Do you like Rome better than Worsted,
Robert ?" Lucy asked timidly.
"The flesh does not, but for the spirit
this surely is the best abode. Whoever
saw piety in Eorsted, such as one sees
LUCY AYLMER. 129
"Robert dear," Lucy said in a grave
tone, "I do not see the piety."
" That is because you know so few, but the
Padre Anastasio, for example. Who in Eng-
land shows such concern for souls as he does
for yours, my Lucy ? Oh ! resist him no
" I must, Robert dear, even to the end,"
Lucy replied. Her face grew paler, her brave
heart fluttered and trembled as she added,
" my own dear husband, to please you I would
do anything, promise anything, but renounce
my faith. I dare not, for when all things else
fail, that is my only support."
"If I only thought heretics could reach
heaven !" Robert murmured in a tone of
" When we are called home, we shall find
many there we never expected to meet," Lucy
" I wish I could think so," Robert said
"DarHng Robert," Lucy added with a
smile, " love hopeth all things !"
" It does — it does !" exclaimed Robert,
" and my love for you hopes you will one day,
130 LUCY AYLMER.
and that soon, be a true daughter of our Holy
Church !" he rose and looked from the
Lucy remained still, her hands folded, her
eyes closed ; and she prayed, as oft she did, a
silent, unuttered prayer, which in her great
perplexity and trouble could only frame the
imploring words, " My Pather, my Father !"
A voice seemed to answer, " Here am I,
be not afraid ;" and with that her fainting
heart revived, and she feared not, but held on
again valiantly. That morning, her old home
life seemed almost returned to her again.
Robert read aloud to Lucy from a book of
miscellaneous poems, a favourite with them in
their early days ; after that he had a romp with
his child ; but Robert, worn and weak by
fasting, and the many austerities of his Hfe,
was soon fatigued by the frolicsome, robust
boy ; and as a change, he proposed to Lucy
their promised walk. How the little wife's
face lighted np as she went with alacrity to
put on her bonnet. Tears of joy were actually
glistening in those soft eyes. The day was
damp and colder than it had yet been ; and as
Lucy was getting out from a box her winter
LUCY ATLMER. 131
shawl, her heart beat quicker, for the Avell-
known step and sonorous voice of the Padre
Anastasio fell like a knell on her ear from the
adjoining room. She hastily completed her
toilet, and hurried in. Hoat the expression of
Robert's countenance had c hanged ! Some-
thing of its old byegone untroubled abandon
had returned during the morning, but alas !
now it was all fled, giving place to fear and
" Lucy," he said, " in the worldly spirit
that was creeping over me, I had forgotten —
may the Holy Saints pardon me !"
Here he performed the sign of the cross — ■
"that to-day is their especial festival. The
Holy Father has awakened me from njy
lethargy, and I now accompany him to the
church of Santa Maria Maggiore, to witness
the blessed ceremony."
There was an expression on Lucy's face
that Robert never forgot, as she said in lo\v
tones, in which tenderness and upbraiding
were mingled : " Then you will not walk
with me to-day ?"
" I wonder you can ask it," interrupted
the Padre sternly ; " miserable woman, you
are not content with the ruin of your own
soul ; — but you must hinder the salvation of
your husband T
Robert trembled ; his lips grew white ; but
he dared not say anything to the priest in re-
Lucy, his fearless, child-like wife, resting
one hand on the table for support, and with
the other caressing her child who had come
towards her, said in respectful tones, " Padre,
neither you nor I, nor any human being upon
earth can put forth a finger in saving or con-
demning the soul of another — we are all sin-
ful, clergy and laity, alike ; and unless God
please to save us, we can have no hope of
heaven ; but should our Father condescend to
look down with pity upon any, and change
their hearts, whether it be Jew or Heathen,
Roman Catholic or Protestant, he can and
will be saved. In the church in Heaven, we
shall meet saints arrayed in white robes from
every quarter of the globe, north, south, east
and west. All shall send souls to glory ; and
we shall never dispute then about forms and
ceremonies, but we shall find everlasting
peace." She ceased, and such a light played
LUCY AYLMER. 133
in her eyes, that she seemed to have come
down to earth from the heaven of which
The Padre did not upbraid her; but he
crossed himself more than once on leaving
the room, and murmured in a low voice,
" She is mad !" And blindly Robert followed
the fanatical old man, and left again his
patient, heretic wife ; but her fair face
haunted him throughout the remainder of
"It is Robert's birth-day," Maude said,
as the first of November came round at
" Ah ! I wonder what he is doing with
himself, the young good-for-nothing !" was the
Squire's rejoinder. He and Maude were
walking together the oft-taken walk along
the Arminster road.
" Let me see, it is a saint's day to-day,"
Maude said. " ' All Saints !' of course, they are
celebrated with due pomp in Rome."
" No folly is too great," muttered the
Squire. " I wish that lad would come and bring
my Lucy back. Then I should not care if
134 LUCY AYLMER.
Rome stood on its head, or did any monstrous
thing. But I don't like my Lucy being
exiled there — it does not bear thinking of."
" She expresses herself contentedly m her
letters," observed Maude ; " though they are
almost too much occupied with general sub-
jects to be satisfactory."
" I almost wish Lucy were a grmiibler ;
then we should discover the real state of
things," said the Squire. " I often think
there is a kind of reserve in her letters, as
if something w^ere kept back."
" Really, papa, we must hope the best," was
Maude's reply. " Lucy is too good for any
lasting harm to come to her."
" Heigho !" sighed the Squire, " I wish
every girl would be an old maid, and stop at
home. I am sure it is the best place."
Maude laughed and coloured.
" You may laugh, Missey, if you hke,"
continued the Squire ; " but you know
yourself it would have been ten thousand
times better if our poor little Lucy had re-
mained with me, and never seen that rascal
of a husband of hers."
" Lucy would tell you everything that
LUCY AYLMER. 185
happens is for the best," rephed ]\Iaude.
" It was a pet saying of the poor dear child,
though I confess T cannot always see it so.
But, papa, who would have thought that Robert
would turn out as he did ?"
" Aye, no ; such a promising young fellow
as he was ! How he did dote upon her ! I
never saw such lovers as they were, and
happy married folks too for the two first years.
It was like going to heaven to be inside their
house ! Not an angry word anywhere, even
among the servants, who always swore they
never had such a master or mistress before,
and never expected to find them again. Lor
me ! how this world changes !"
" You must not change too, papa !" Maude
" What do you mean, Maude, my queen ?"
exclaimed her father, turning round towards
" I mean, do not become dull, whatever
happens. It is not your nature, papa."
" I know it is not. But I cannot help
feeling down sometimes when I think of my
Lucy. A man does not like his daughters to
be used as she has been. It goes against a
136 LUCY AYLMER.
man's whole nature." The Squire broke off
with a whistle.
" I wonder how much longer Aunt Augusta
is going to remain at the Fairfields !" Maude
" I can't see the fun she finds in being
there at all/' replied her father. " If I
were a single woman, it would bore my life
out, to have young Fairfield dangling after
" But you know Aunt Augusta likes ad-
miration," said Maude.
" Bless my soul ! that she does !" the
Squire laughed. " I never saw such a girl as
Augusta. Well, she has had her day of
" Auntie would not be very well pleased if
she heard you," said Maude. " She counts
upon many another season."
" Ha ! there goes Erresford !" exclaimed
the Squire, as Cecil rode out by a gate leading
from the St. Agnes woods on to the Arminster
Maude's cheeks reddened, as she said :
'' He does not see us."
" Doesn't he though !" replied the Squire.
LUCY AYLMER. 137
Cecil wheeled his horse round, and rode
quickly up to them.
" Are you going to walk to Arminster, Miss
Neville ?" Cecil said playfully, as he dis-
mounted and shook hands with her and the
Maude smiled '* We have ridden so much
lately," she replied, "that we are giving the
horses a rest, and are going to wander along
the hills for a change."
" What a capital horse you have got there,"
said the Squire.
" Yes, he is a first-rate fellow. I bought
him last week of Captain Prescott for my
brother ; and De Walden wishes me to ride
him once or twice to be certain he has no
The Squire walked up to the horse, patted
him, smoothed his mane, and said :
" You are a good stepper, my fine fellow,
"Mount him, Mr. Neville," said Cecil,
" and give your opinion of his paces."
The Squire did not require to be invited
twice. He was up in a mmute, took Cecil's
whip, and rode off' along the steep road.
138 LUCY AYLMER.
Cecil watched him a moment, then turned
. " Have you received news from Rome
lately ?" he asked.
" We had our own weekly letter yesterday.
Poor Lucy writes peacefully ; yet I am con-
vinced she is not happy." Maude took a
letter from her pocket and opened it. " Just
listen to this page," she said, walking slowly
on as she read : " ' We live a quiet life,
unbroken by any excitement. Dear Ro-
bert is necessarily much from home, as his
.Church imposes upon him the attendance
on many services. I am sure people must
think him very good ; for they seem to
take so much interest in his welfare. Even
Lady Anne Erresford speaks pleasingly of
him. You will be grieved to learn that he
has grown very thin and pale. How a breath
of dear Eorsted air would revive him ! Per-
haps our sweet hill-side air may blo^v on us
sooner than we expect. I have a sort of
presentiment that I am going home. Some-
times it comes over me so strongly that I can
scarcely refrain from packing up our things.
No Eorsted breezes could possibly suit my
LUCY AYLMER. 139
Harry better than this air does. He is a
complete " young England" — such rosy cheeks
and coral lips ! and he has spirits enough to
prevent any one being dull. He groY\s daily
more like dear papa. I msh he could see his
' little Phil ;' but, perhaps, he would spoil him.
All grandpapas do ! Stevens and I often talk
of you all, and try to fancy what you are
doing, particularly on Sunday afternoon, when
I imagine you and dear papa taking our old
walks among the hills, and up the stony lanes.
It seems but yesterday that I walked with you
— only yesterday since Robert took possession
of his living.
" ' But I must not look back — I find it is
a bad habit. Look onward and look upward,
that is best. Looking backward plunges me
into day-dreams, and unfits me for daily oc-
cupations, whereas looking forward makes
me feel hopeful : and looking upward — oh !
Maude, darling, it makes me feel strong-
hearted, peaceful, and thankful !
" ' I wish you would send me some autumn
leaves from the old beech-tree — any little me-
mentoes of Worsted are precious — and tell me
all about my poor old women, and if Tawney
140 LUCY AYLMER.
still dozes away his days on the door-mat.
Dear old doggie ! how often I have sat by
his side, with one hand over his neck, while
with the other I fed him with pieces of meat
begged with difficulty from our inexorable
cook ! I had no idea of the strength of
Sarah's affection for me, till we came to part ;
then — oh ! the tears ! — how every one cried !
What a joyful day it will be when we return !
Over again, at the risk of being tedious, I
must tell you how strong my presentiment is,
that my own dear husband will yet preach
in old St. Walburga. What a day of re-
joicing that would be !
" ' If Mr. Erresford is at Castle St. Agnes,
do make him my most affectionate regards.
I sometimes fancy if he were to come to
Rome, he might have an influence over
Robert, counteracting that of Padre Anastasio.
Influence for good must in the end over-
power the ill. The more I see of the Roman
Catholic Church, the more I shudder at the
thought that he who is dearer to me than my
own life, should be in its trammels ; but God
can take him out of them, impossible though
it now seems, surrounded as he is by priestly
LUCY AYLMER. 141
influence, which has a strange fascination over
so many. People, once within its power, do
not even think for themselves !
" ' But, dear me, what a long letter this
is ! I must conclude it hastily, and give
dear papa the rest of my paper. Fare-thee-
well, best of sisters ! Pray for me every day,
and particularly in church on Sunday, as then
I am always praying for you. Ask for me
that I may be patient and humble, and
' fight the good fight,' so that I may receive a
crown of reward. How the dear old martyrs
used to sing through everything ! Whenever
I find myself disagreeable, and inclined to
complain, I think of them and sing. Then I
forget all around, and feel myseK almost in
Heaven !' "
Here Maude paused. She looked at
Cecil, and — could she be mistaken ? — She
fancied he hurried away a tear. Her own
" Is she not an angel ?" Maude ex-
" She is, indeed !" Cecil said. He looked
very thoughtful as he added, *' I wish we had
her safely here."
142 LUCY AYLMER.
The Squire, who had been riding on far
a-head, now came trotting back. Maude
hastily put her letter again in her pocket.
"I would give a couple of hundred for
him, any day," the Squire said.
Cecil smiled, but he looked abstracted as
he replied :
"Then I was not cheated."
CeciFs thoughts were far away in Rome.
Lucy's letter sounded to him prophetic ; she
was more fit for Heaven than earth. He
shuddered at the thought. There was no-
thing terrible in death connected with Lucy
Aylmer, but there was something very sad in
the idea of one so young dying far away
from kindred and home ! <^Why did such
gloomy thoughts enter Cecil's mind ? He
did not know ; but when once they were there,
he could not get rid of them — they haunted
him ; and Lucy's message haunted him.
Could he be of any use to llobert ? Could
he overpower the Padre's reasonings ? Hard
task though this seemed, he would try.
Cecil's friendship was very strong within
him, and it carried him that very week away
from the Worsted hills. And Maude — and
LUCY AYLMER. 143
Maude ! did he mind parting from her ? We
ask the Porsted hills the reason why, and,
instead of answering our words, echo seems
to crv, " Whv not ?"
144 LUCr AYLMER.
" Oh ! art thou here ? Come here to see me !
Too, too kind !"
" I fear, I fear
Thou art not as I would — tears in thine eyes.
And anguish in thy face ! How hast thou fared ?"
An organ filled the arches with its heavenly
strains, and the voices of priests and choristers
sounded melodiously. The subdued light
among the lines of beautiful columns, the
exquisitely decorated roof, the altars, the pic-
tures, dazzled and attracted even the eyes
of an habitue who strolled along, loitering here
and there to drink in the strain that floated
on the air. A priest passed by with a
LUCY AYLMER. 145
scowl on his brow ; close after the priest came
a young man mth eyes fixed on the gromid,
who saw nothing, but his own torturing
thoughts. Then came some more priests also
eyeing the ground, and when these had passed,
the loiterer strolled on, and as he strolled, he
came suddenly upon a small figure, solitary
and alone, sitting on the basement of one of
Santa Maria Maggiore's huge pillars. Her
head leant heavily against the cold stone, her
hands were clasped together in her lap, and
her eyes, heavenly and bright, glanced far
away, as though she already saw into the
land of spirits. The priest in the marble
chapel wdth book and bell, incense and
genuflections, had no apparent interest for
her ; but the music rolling gloriously along —
so vividly exquisite to the ear, that the eyes
were spontaneously lifted, as if the sounds
were wings and floated on the air, though it
had little charm for the praying zealous
devotees, yet seemed sent by heaven expressly
as a balm to soothe the heart's woes of the
silent, suffering stranger. An elderly lady in
mourning, who, book in hand, was passing
slowly along, paused and looked in pity and
VOL. III. H
146 LUCY AYLMER.
amazement, at the small, still figure, alone
in the shade and beauty of that grand old
church, but she too passed by, and still
Lucy remained. The habitue also stood a few
moments near her, but seeing she did not
raise her eyes, he turned away, and continued
his stroll, always, however, seeming to keep
her in view. But with untiring patience, she
sat alone in the silent aisle, if perchance she
might catch her husband's glance, and be able
to bestow on him a loving smile ; but he passed
her by on his exit with studiously averted
head. She watched him gone with a band of
dark-clad, dark-browed companions ; and when
the poor deluded worshippers had streamed
away, she rose to depart, with the look nearest
approaching despair, that had ever appeared
on her fair young face. She glanced around
the lofty aisles, she cast her gaze up at the
fretted roof, and let it linger there, blinded by
her tears ; then to her mind came the thought,
" Weeping may endure for a night, but joy
cometh in the morning." It came so vividly,
so like reality, that she almost fancied she
heard it spoken : she turned round instinctively,
but no one was near. The autumn day was
LUCY AYLMER. 147
beginning to close in ; she thought her Httle
Harry would be missing her at home, and
walked with quick, but uneven steps, towards
the great portico. Suddenly some one ad-
" Mrs. Aylmer !" Surprise made her tremble
as she saw Cecil before her. Was he to bring
back the joy at last ? "I have been trying to
make you see me for at least ten minutes," he
said, in his cheerful voice. '' I began to revolve
in my own mind the probability of your
intending to pass the night in this cold
" It becomes so soon dark now," Lucy
replied, '' but you cannot think how you
surprised me. You were the last person I
expected to meet here."
" It was a sudden freak of mine, this visit ;
but I must not keep you in the draught of
this door. You will not refuse me the pleasure
of seeing you home ? We can converse as we
go along." Lucy took his offered arm. " I
arrived here this morning," he continued,
" and have been trying to find Robert,
assiduously hunting him up, but in vain, at
length, in this church, I discovered him ; but
148 LUCY AYLMER.
he was so hemmed in with priests, there was
no approaching him.
Lucy sighed but did not speak.
" Do you expect to find Robert at home ?"
" I scarcely think it probable," she repHed,
" though I cannot tell. I have seen him very
little this week."
" Mrs. Aylmer/' Cecil began, " you must
excuse my so suddenly entering upon family
affairs ; but is Robert still under priestly
guidance ? If so, I have come to Rome ex-
pressly for his sake, to use my utmost powers
to liberate him from their grasp."
Lucy's look expressed the gratitude for
which she had no words. " Poor Robert !"
she sighed, " he would be very different if it
were not for Pather Anastasio "
"To what purpose does he devote his
time ?" Cecil asked.
" When I came, he was preparing for the
priesthood," she replied. "What he does
now, I scarcely know."
" Poor fellow !'* murmured Cecil, " what
arguments does he bring forth in favour of his
extraordinary change ?"
LUCY AYLMER. 149
" None !" replied Lucy, " he only talks of
the blessedness of belonging to the Romish
"Does the Padre Anastasio often visit him
at his own residence?" asked Cecil again.
" Robert is very seldom at home ; but the
Padre comes to me frequently, and so does
Lady Anne. They want me to go into a
convent," Lucy said, sadly.
Cecil almost stood still with amazement,
exclaiming : " Want you to enter a convent,
" You see, Robert would be at liberty to
enter the priesthood then," Lucy meekly
" Upon my word !" Cecil said. " I had no
idea it had come to this. I should think
between my sister and the priest, you are
very much persecuted ?"
"I did not like it at first, but I bear it
pretty well now," she said, with a sweet,
" No one would bear it so beautifully but
yourself," he exclaimed, while his face was
still flushed with indignation at her treat-
150 LUCY AYLMER.
" What would you have me do ?" she
replied, again smiling. " I cannot refuse to see
the Padre every time he chooses to come,
though my maid did send him away yester-
day, without letting me know ; for I was tired
and asleep after dinner. She told him," con-
tinued Lucy, " that I could not be distm^bed
for any one. Stevens is braver than I should
" Bravo, Stevens !" exclaimed Cecil, good-
"She is a dreadful enemy to the Padre,"
said Lucy ; " and one day when she thought
he had been persecuting me longer than
usual, in his efforts for my conversion, she
let a box fall heavily in the adjoining room
to attract my attention, and while I ran to
see what was the matter, the Padre went ;
but he carried off my brown Bible, which I
had left on the table vdth him. But if he
were to take all the Bibles in the universe
from my sight, he could never take the pre-
cepts out of my heart !" she added, fer-
"What a thieving scoundrel!" said Cecil,
LUCr AYLMER. 151
" He is extremely kind in his way
to Robert, and lie is generally very civil
to me," Lucy remarked, as if by way of
" He ought always to be so, I think,"
replied Cecil. He was silent for some minutes,
and when he spoke again, it was not of
Rome but of Forsted.
Lucy's present severe trials had, if pos-
sible, strengthened her love of home, and
she had many questions to ask about her
father and Maude. These were all satisfac-
torily answered, and by that time they had
reached the house where Lucy lived. She
invited Cecil in, but no Robert was there.
Cecil could not help contrasting her snug
parsonage home with the dull floor high up
in a gloomy street.
Lucy's neat hand and pretty taste were
visible about the room ; but there was a
bareness and a lack of comforts that were
distressing to him.
"Ah!" he said to himself, ''it is weU her
father and Maude cannot see this !"
Lucy had gone to fetch her little boy, and
Cecil opened some books on a side table.
152 LUCY AYLMER.
" George Herbert," and " Longfellow's
Poems," these were Lucy's ; but " Lives
of the Saints," and " Services to the Saints,"
with divers other books bearing extraordi-
nary titles, these belonged to her misguided
While Cecil was looking at these, Lucy
returned. She had removed her bonnet and
cloak ; and then, for the first time, Cecil was
struck with the startling change that had taken
place in her. Her face had become very
thin and pale, and her soft eyes wore an
imploring look, as if she were always plead-
ing with some one; but a beautiful, laugh-
ing boy bounded forward, then retreated,
hiding himself m his mother's dress ; and
Cecil's mind was diverted from Lucy to his
It grew dark, and tea was brought in,
but no Robert made his appearance. Sud-
denly Lucy remembered, that on Saturday
evening the Marchesa Elmo always held a
" Ah ! now I remember she does," ex-
claimed Cecil. "I shall go there myself;
undoubtedly I shall meet Robert. I never
LUCY AYLMER. 153
knew Anastasio miss an evening, when I have
been in Rome before."
" Oh ! I hope you will see Robert !" Lucy
" You may depend I will, Mrs. Aylmer.
Robert shall not escape me," Cecil replied
smiling. '' I will try and see if I cannot be a
match for old Anastasio."
" The Padre seems a person of strange
fascinations to members of his own church.
Lady Anne idolizes him."
" Anne is a wilful girl ; but Robert's faults
are only weakness of character and im-
pressibility. I have known him well from
boyhood. He is deeply sensible of persuasion
and kindness ; and you may depend he is
just the sort of person to be easily led away,
and easily brought back."
"I am very glad you have come," Lucy
said in a hopeful tone.
" I could not rest quietly any longer," he
repHed. " Robert wants some strong hand
to extricate him from the web in which he is
entangled. I wish we could get him away
from this place."
'' Oh, so do I !" Lucy exclaimed eagerly.
154 LUCY AYLMER.
" We will try," Cecil said. " Good night,
Mrs. Aylmer ; good night, little Harry — you
must not hide away from me when I come
" Good-bye— good-bye !" shouted the little
fellow, as Lucy held open the door, that the
hght might fall on Cecil down the gloomy
dark staircase. She heard his footsteps
retreat into the street ; and with little Harry
still repreating " good-byes " in a whisper to
himself, she went back into her o^vn room
again, and smiled as she caught sight of her-
self in an old mirror — her face wore such a
hopeful, happy expression.
Cecil went to the Marchesa's reception. It
was late when he arrived. The first person he
encountered was his sister.
" Ah ! Anne," he exclaimed, " you look
amazed at seeing me here !"
" I am amazed, Cecil, at nothing you do,"
she answered. "Did you leave my mother
and De Walden weU ?"
" Flourishing both. I saw Mora before I
left, and she seems in improved spirits."
" No bad thing," said Lady Anne, dryly.
" Have you seen the Aylmers ?"
LUCY AYLMER. 155
" Lucy and her boy ; but I have not been
able to find Robert."
"He is somewhere here 'v\dth the Padre
Anastasio ; he looks miserably ill. I think his
fooHsh child of a wife must be a trial to
"I will not allow you to say so, Anne/'
said Cecil gravely. "If one has a trial in
the other — Lucy has it in him."
"I suppose she has been complaining,"
remarked her Ladyship, with a look of
"Did you ever hear her utter a single
complaint of any one, much less of her
husband?" said Cecil earnestly.
"No!" Lady Anne rephed, "for she has
no one to complain of — but herself."
" I thought you had more feeling, Anne,"
her brother said with a sigh.
" In some respects, I do feel for the poor
little misguided thing. I feel for her obsti-
nacy in withstanding all the efforts made
for her conversion." m
" I rejoice she does w^ithstahd them — brave
soul ! She will have her reward ! ' Blessed
are they which suffer for righteousness
156 LUCY AYLMER.
sake !'" Lady Anne shrugged her shoulders
and turned away. Cecil looked after her a
compassionate look; then, seeing her stand
still, alone, he followed her and said, in the
most winning tones of his peculiarly win-
ning voice : " Anne, I really do care for
you ; do not shun me. We differ widely in
faith, I regret it deeply. But we might be
united in a true and kindly brotherly and
sisterly love, one for the other." Lady
Anne's lip curled with a supercilious smile,
^as she said ;
"Really, Cecil, one would imagine we
were children !"
" Surely as we advance in years, we need
lose none of childhood's warmth ?" Cecil
" Worthy brother !" she said ; " have you
not yet learned there are divers tempera-
ments in this great world ?"
" Worthy Anne !" Cecil rejoined playfully,
" I have learned there would be many warmer,
truer hearts in this world, if they were not
self- crushed 1"
" I prefer calm, good sense to sentiment,"
Lady Anne said. " I despise sentiment."
LUCT ATLMER 157
" You include earthly affection under that
term, Anne ?"
" Earthly affection is well and good enough
in its place, but not when it is made an
idol, and worshipped in the stead of holy
" I would rather make an idol of my wife
than of a saint," Cecil said rather warmly.
" When does the marriage take place ?*'
asked her ladyship, satirically.
"When the Lady Anne will come and
add to the happiness of the ceremony by
her presence," replied the not to be provoked
" Perhaps I shall invite you to mine before
then," she said.
" To yours, Anne !" exclauned Cecil.
" Yes," she replied, to mine ; " but I aspire
to no common bridegroom. I shall never
approach the hymeneal altar, but to wed my-
self to Heaven!"
Cecil gazed at her in amazement, and while
he looked, she turned away.
" Can it be possible," he said aloud, " that
I shall ever have the sorrow and humiliation
of seeing a sister of mine enter a convent ?"
158 LUCY AYLMER.
He walked across the rooms with a cloud
hanging o'er his brow; suddenly he came
upon Robert. The lynx-eyed Padre was not
very far off.
" Well, Robert, old fellow, we have met
again, at last 1" Cecil exclaimed, shaking him
warmly by the hand.
" An unexpected pleasure !" replied Robert,
who turned pale as he rose to welcome his
" I have been twice to your quarters to-day,
in the hope of finding you," Cecil said, " and,
at last, 1 began to despair."
" I am necessarily very much from home,"
" A shocking confession for a married man
to make !" remarked Cecil good-temperedly.
" I should have thought with such a wife and
boy as yours, you would have been completely
occupied with them."
" Duty first, and pleasure afterwards !'*
Robert replied with a faint smile.
"We must first define the meaning of
the words ' duty and pleasure,' " Cecil said
Robert sighed, and looked round to Padi-e
LUCY AYLMER. 159
Anastasio. The Padre, however, was apparently
deep in conversation with the holy Hubert,
and bent his head down in wrapt attention
to the discourse of that worthy.
"I have missed you dreadfully from
Forsted, Aylmer," Cecil said. "It is the
place of all others that I love best, and the
place where I like my friends to con-
" Have you been residing there lately ?"
" Why, yes, I found Hatchworth dull and
soKtary ; and my brother likes me to stay as
much as possible at St. Agnes. My mother is
at Wood Hall at present, entertaining a house
full of guests, Sangford and Flora among
them. Now, Aylmer, you have a short sketch
of the family whereabouts."
" And the Manor party ! Have you good
news of them ?"
" Oh ! they are flourishing ; but a little bit
anxious about you and your Lucy."
" I am surprised at that," said Robert, " as
they hear so often from Lucy."
And soon did Cecil and Robert converse
160 LUCY AYLMER.
uninterrupted by priestly interference till a
late hour. It would not have been politic,
had Padre Anastasio joined them. It might
appear to Cecil as if he watched Robert ; and
the Padre, who played his part well, avoided
scrupulously every appearance of this ; though
covertly and cautiously he noticed and heard
all that passed between the two young men.
Cecil insisted, when the hour came for his
departure, that Robert should leave with him.
He would take no refusal, and, moreover,
Cecil would have Robert alone.
They walked through the streets quickly,
till they reached the hotel, where Cecil had
taken up his quarters, and which was not far
distant from the Marchesa's palace.
They both went in. Cecil said it would
remind him of old times, if they supped to-
gether. Robert sat passively down in an arm-
chair in Cecil's room. Cecil reposed himself at
full length on a sofa, while the supper was
being prepared, and then he exclaimed :
" Well, Bob, you see I am at my old trick
again, of not leaving you to yourself !'*
" Did you come to Rome expressly to see
me ?" Robert asked, braver now he was out of
LUCY AYLMER. 161
sight of the Padre, at once his terror and his
" Expressly," replied Cecil. " I wanted to
see what you were about ; you must be awfully
duU here in Rome. It is bad for your health
and spirits to live up in that dingy house,
and court solitude in choosing such a
" Thank you, it suits me very well," was
" You look as if it suited you very ill. I
should think yoa weigh many pounds hghter
than when I saw you last. You appear half-
starved. I wiH wager you are not the kind
of fellow to stand too many fast days !"
Robert looked up at Cecil's cheerful,
handsome countenance — he had expected
questionings and rebuke, and was utterly
taken by surprise at the joking pleasant
tone in which he found himself ad-
" How you do call back old days, Bob !"
Cecil went on. "Eton, Oxford, vacation
trips, all return as vividly to my mind as if
they had only just happened. What a
162 LUCY AYLMER.
wretched fellow you always were, to look
after your own concerns; and such a nice
easy prey to avaricious old landladies !
"Do you recollect those double bills at
Oxford, and how meekly you were going
to pay them over again — till I took you in
Robert smiled as he replied, " You often
came to the rescue."
" I have come for that now. Bob. I am
tired of dancing after my lady mother from
Essex to Somerset, und so welter, and
nothing pleased my head better than an
idea which took possession of it, to endea-
vour to find you out. You bad fellow never
to write to me ! And then 1 intended to
ask you and Mrs. Aylmer to take a little
tour with me somewhere or other. What do
you think of the plan?"
"There is so much to consider before I
can move from here," Robert replied in a
" Aylmer, you are past the age for lead-
ing strings now," Cecil said. " Be your own
LUCY AYLMER. 163
master, my dear fellow ; if you choose to
accompany me, there is nothing to pre-
Robert looked down as he replied, " I
must consult my friends."
" What friends, Bob ?" Cecil asked, rising
on his elbow, and fixing on Robert's puzzled
timid countenance his honest gaze.
" I do not think you are acquainted with
their names ; and, therefore, it is useless men-
tioning them," Robert repKed in a hurried
"Why, bless you, Aylmer, I knew old
Anastasio before I knew you — and he stands
at the head of the list. Now, confess, it is no
use to endeavour to keep secrets from me, is
it. Bob ?"
"Padre Anastasio has been unboundedly
kind, and so have others of his brethren
with whom I have become acquainted."
Cecil rose up suddenly, and putting
his hands on Robert's shoulders, said in
a tone between argument and reproof,
" Aylmer, has not your wife been very kind
Robert started; and two deep white lines
164 LUCY AYLMER.
settled round his mouth. He did not speak,
and Cecil went on.
"It is not. No, it really is not fair to
leave your poor little wife all alone for days
and days together, with no one to protect her
but her maid. It is not like a man, Aylmer, it
is not indeed !'*
Cecil spoke in an earnest, straightforward
manner, beneath which Robert seemed
" Surely, Bob, because you change your
creed, that need not alter your love ? First
to leave her, and then, when she joins you,
almost to forsake her ; and to allow her to be
tortured by the visits of a proselytizing
priest, and my misguided sister ; and such an
unoffending little wife as yours is ! If you did
not intend to treat her better, upon my word,
you should not have married her !"
" There I erred !" rephed Robert in a stifled
tone. " You cannot upbraid me more than T
" 1 do not see why you should have acted
otherwise. You had loved her all your life.
What has she done to change you so sud-
LUCY AYLMER. 165
" Oh ! nothing, nothing !" Robert mur-
mured ; '' but Erresford, it is impossible — you
cannot understand. You cannot know all
the causes, the reasons — "
"Then I am to understand that you
have ceased to love your wife ?" said
" No, never !" Robert exclaimed, while
the colour rushed to his hollow, pale
" Forgive me those hasty words, Aylmer,"
Cecil continued ; "but when I think of your
wife as I saw her this afternoon — forlorn, neg-
lected — yet bearing all with the patience of an
angel, and remember what she was when I
saw her first, her life happy and cloudless,
the contrast makes me mad ! Only consider
quietly what would your feelings be, if you
went to her now in sorrow for all the grief
you have occasioned her, and saw her dead,
and knew that you yourself were the cause !
that you, who had promised and vowed to pro-
tect and cherish her, had from coldness, and
neglect, broken her heart !"
Robert trembled from head to foot.
" It is a fearful thing," Cecil went on ; " it
166 LUCr AYLMER.
makes me shudder to think of it ! But I
must make you acquainted, Aylmer, Avith
what your wife's maid told me, only a few
hours ago — that lately your Lucy has been
attacked by strange, sudden fits of fainting.
Last week, I think it was, she became in-
sensible for so long, that her maid called a
doctor, and he told Stevens, in confidence,
one of these fits might carry her off 1"
Cecil's voice was husky as he uttered these
words. He turned, away, and paced up and
down the room.
" Oh ! why was I never told this before ?"
Robert exclaimed bitterly.
" Because," replied Cecil, " your devoted
wife, who thinks and cares so much more
for you than you do for her, would not have
you distressed by the knowledge of her ill-
ness. Mind, she knows nothing herself of
what the doctor said. Stevens told me when
Mrs. Aylmer was out of the room."
Cowed, stupified, and bewildered, Robert
remained gazing on th^ floor. Cecil's flash-
ing eyes were fixed upon him at each turn.
Suddenly he paused in his walk, and standing
before Robert, he exclaimed :
LUCY AYLMER. 167
" From boyhood till now, we have been to
each other as friend and brother. I should
be unworthy those names, did I leave you to
pursue your own headstrong course without
putting forth a hand to save you."
Still silence, still averted look, and bent-
down head !
" Aylmer, answer me one question : will
you continue to give your sanction to Padre
Anastasio's daily visits of torturing persua-
sions to induce your young wife to leave
"Padre Anastasio is his own master. I
dare not dictate to him," was Ptobert's
"Plesh and blood cannot stand this 1"
Cecil exclaimed. " Aylmer, is this man so
dear to you, that you suffer him to become
the torment of your Lucy's perhaps fast-
fleeting life ? Oh, Robert ! you were wont
to be so tender-hearted once, you could not
even bear to hear of any suffering ; and do
you now disregard all the agony and sorrow
which the Lucy whom your young days
idoHzed, suffers in your absence ?"
Cecil's voice, Cecil's words, touched a
168 LUCY AYLMER.
chord in Robert's poor, stifled heart. He
threw himself on his knees by the table, on
which his head sank heavily ; and the walls of
that gilded room echoed back his repentant
LUCY AYLMER. 169
Forbear such wild and frantic sorrow now.
And speak to her while she is sensible,
And can receive thy words. She looks on thee,
And looks imploringly.
It was the Sabbath morning : the clock
had struck one. Robert bade Cecil good-
night at the entrance to his house, and
ascended alone the dull, dark staircase. He
was in a very different frame of mind than
he would have been if he had had the Padre
Anastasio for his companion. Cecil had
filled his heart with soft thoughts towards
his wife — such gentle thoughts, that, in his
great repentance for the wrongs he had done
her, and the sorrow he had caused, he was
VOL. III. I
170 LUCY AYLMEK.
actually planning to remove her from Rome,
not to Porsted, but to some equally quiet
English village, where he would atone for his
past neglect by his kind, loving conduct ; and
if she interfered not with his worship, the
least he could do, as Cecil told him, was to
allow her to continue her holy life, undis-
turbed, in the faith of her fathers.
He had come to the bold conclusion, under
Cecil's protection, not to take the counsels of
the Padre concerning his wife. How could
the Padre tell what he felt towards her, or
know what was the duty of a husband?
Robert opened the sitting-room door very
softly, and in a very penitent frame, with a
loving speech already prepared for his Lucy.
Por the first time since her residence in
Rome, she had not sat up for him. He was
alarmed, and remained a moment looking
around the room. Prom the adjoining apart-
ment sounds of voices issued. He knew not
why, but his heart died within him, and he
stood still, trembling, with a dull, foreboding
feeling of ill hanging over him.
The door of Lucy's room slowly opened,
and an elderly man, looking very grave, came
LUCY AYLMER 171
out. Robert felt as if he should sink to the
ground, as he recognized an English physi-
cian, whom Padre Anastasio had pointed out
to him only a few days previously. Robert's
face was pale and haggard, and the stern
expression the doctor wore, was instantly
changed to one of pity.
" Your wife has been very ill, Mr. Aylmer,"
he said, in a low tone.
Robert stared at him a moment, then in an
agitated voice asked.
" What has happened ?"
The doctor handed him a chair, and made
him sit down.
" You must be as composed as possible,"
he said, '' a great deal depends upon jon.
Mrs. Aylmer has had a very severe fainting
fit from which 1 feared we should never rouse
He looked at Robert, whose lips quivered.
'' May 1 not go to her?" were all the words
they could frame.
" Yes, presently ! but you must wait until
you are perfectly calm — poor lady, the first
word she spoke on recovering, was your
172 LUCY AYLMER.
Robert looked completely stunned.
'' She will get better ?" he said, fixing
his eyes eagerly on the doctor's coun-
" Disease of the heart is to be feared," was
the reply, while a tear glistened in the eye of
the speaker. " I have noticed her Sunday after
Sunday at the English church, and admired
the patient, sweet expression of her coun-
tenance, wondering who she was."
" I was just thinking of taking her home to
England," Robert murmured.
''It is a pity she was ever taken from
England," was the short reply. The doctor
rose and went back to Lucy's room, and
Robert was left alone. He did not invoke the
Virgin Mary nor the Saints in this hour of
trial ; but the cry that ascended to heaven was
" Oh, God, pardon me !" and covering his face
with his hands, he recalled Cecil's words :
"What would you feel, did you return
home and find her dead, and know that you
yourself were the cause ?"
He stifled a groan, and looking up, saw
Stevens was standing by his side.
LUCY AYLMER. 173
" You may go to her now, Sir, but you must
please not to agitate her."
Stevens spoke in a dictatorial tone, and
her face wore an expression as if she despised
her master from her very heart.
Lucy was looking anxiously for Robert.
When he came in, she smiled faintly, and held
out her hand ; Robert stooped and kissed
" Oh ! darling Lucy," he murmured, " how
grieved I am."
She looked so still and death-like, lying
back on a pile of white pillows, that
Robert could scarcely speak, he was so agi-
Lucy seemed to read his feelings, for she
" I shall soon be well again, Robert ! pray
do not be anxious."
"We will go home when you are well,
darhng, directly — home to Forsted and papa
and Maude." Robert knelt on the floor by
her bed-side, and she held his hand in both
" Delightful ! thank you, dear Robert," she
174 LUCY AYLMER.
" You do not suffer now, darling ?" Robert
" No, not now you are here," and again she
There is one verse in the Bible, Robert had
never perfectly realized before. " If thine
enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give
him drink ; for in so doing, thou shalt
heap coals of fire on his head !" Robert felt
the " coals of fire " now — Oh ! if she had
only upbraided him, he could perhaps have
borne it !
" Shall I read you to sleep, Lucy darling,
as I used sometimes at home ?" Robert asked
" If you would be so kind, Robert ?" she
said, in a contented and peaceful tone.
Robert hesitated a moment what to read.
The Bible Lucy loved best ; but Padre Anas-
tasio had particulary enforced on him, it was
a dangerous book for the laity. He was in a
dilemma — when suddenly his eyes lighted on
Keble's " Christian Year." He opened the
book, and in slightly faltering but soothing
tones, he repeated the " Evening Hymn "
slowly, sometimes pausing at Lucy's favourite
LUCY AYLMER, 175
vei'ses ; and when he had ended, and his voice
ceased, the loved eyes that had been fixed
watchingly on his face, were closed, and she
slept, the cool air from the Campagna blowing
fresh over her face through the open window.
Robert had forgotten the existence of the
physician, till his hand rested on Robert's
shoulder, and in a whisper, he said.
" Take care of her. I will return again at
dayhght." Then he moved noiselessly away,
and left Robert alone, watching by the bedside
of the Squire's idolized child — of Maude's
treasured sister, and his own long-tried here-
tic wife. Did he doubt then that if angels
bore her away in her sleep, they would carry
her to heaven ? Doubt it ? oh, no 1 His
mind was racked, tortured, for he thought
he should never meet her there! Penances,
absolutions, what were they then ? Saints
and angels, what were they doing that they
did not comfort him ? All the comfort of the
Church had forsaken him, but all the per-
secutions of his young w^ife stood out before
him in bold relief. Despair and doubt
floated around him, and this sjood son of
176 LUCY AYLMER.
the Church found no haven to flee into
"Amidst the howling wintry sea,
We are in port if we have Thee !"
In those dreary hours which Robert
passed by Lucy's bedside, watching her al-
most colourless countenance — his old, old,
passionate unaffected love returned with all
its warmth and tenderness. He wove rapid
and eager plans for transporting her home
to Forsted ; he even revolved in his own
mind, the probabihty of a certain pretty
little verandahed cottage being tenantless,
where he thought they could live at very
little expense. For the journey home he
must borrow of Cecil — he would not touch
any more of Lucy's legacy — he reddened at
the thought ; but for Lucy he could do
anything. And he would work and pay
Cecil again. Oh ! what care he would take
of her from henceforth ! and with what
delight he would spare her any trouble, any
anxiety ! and in order that their income
might be larger, he would endeavour, if
LUCY AYLMER. 177
possible, to get employment as daily tutor
to some of the families in the neighbour-
The clock struck eight. Lucy still slept.
Robert still formed plans, when the choir of
a church near the house, broke forth into
melodious strains. The clear, young voices
of the choristers rose on the air with touch-
ing sweetness. The sound awoke Lucy. She
looked around bewildered.
" It was like being aroused by angels,"
said she with a sweet smile.
''It is the choir, dearest, chanting early
service," Robert replied.
" Poor children 1 they are singing praises
as well as they can." She said this in a
dreamy voice ; then turning to Robert, she
exclaimed, "have you been sitting by me
all this time. How w^earied you must be ?"
she put out her hand and pushed the hair
from off his brow.
" Are you better, darling ?" Robert asked.
" Oh, yes ! I have been dreaming I w^as
at home ; and Claude and I were in the gar-
den with Tawney, and we were both girls
178 LUCY AYLMER.
"Directly you are well, darling, we will
go," Robert said. " We shall have a very
pleasant journey, for Cecil will travel with
'* Have you seen him ?" Lucy asked.
" I spent some time with him last night.
He is as good and true-hearted as ever!"
" Yes ! is he not ?" responded Lucy.
" I wish I were like him," sighed Robert.
" What a good husband he will make !"
Lucy passed her hand fondly down Ro-
bert's cheek. There was a moment's silence.
Robert felt a choking sensation in his throat,
and could not trust himself to speak. Lucy
closed her eyes, and seemed as if she would
sleep again, when suddenly she said :
" Robert, dear, must you go out to-day ?"
The imploring tone struck her husband to
the heart, and he burst into tears. Lucy
looked pained and distresses 1, and used all
her strength in soothing him, till he sobbed
" Lucy, oh, Lucy ! I will never leave you
again. I have neglected you cruelly, wickedly,
but I will never do so again ! I vow it — oh,
solemnly ! that you shall henceforth be dearer
LUCY AYLMER. 179
to me than everything — yes ! even clearer
than the Church herself !"
" Dearest husband !" Lucy said, " you al-
ways have loved me. This last year, we
have not been quite so happy together — your
new religion stepped between us. But you
thought it was all for the best."
Robert heaved a deep sigh. "Can you for-
give me ?" he said.
" Indeed I can," she replied, with a smile.
" I should be a strange wife if I could not !
Do not look so sad, Robert dear ! you have
made me very happy : I can lie still and think
of home now ; and how Maude looks, and
papa, and all our old haunts and the familiar
faces. I must get well so as to be there for
Christmas- I have never once missed ' Hark
the Herald Angels,' in Forsted church."
" It shall not be my fault, if you miss it
this year," Robert said.
" It would not appear Christmas unless you
went to church with me," Lucy replied
" Oh, Lucy ! you must not expect too much
180 LUCY AYLMER.
" No — no ! I was wrong, I forgot that our
faith is no longer the same," she said sadly.
" Do you still think mine is not the true
one, dearest Lucy ?" Robert asked earnestly.
"Yes, Robert, I know it is not," she
" What makes you think that ?" he en-
" Because the Bible says so," she answered,
in a faint voice — a shade passed over her face,
and her eyes closed heavily.
Robert Avas extremely alarmed, and hasten-
ed to find Stevens, upbraiding himself bitterly
with having fatigued Lucy ; however, exactly
at this moment the physician opportunely
entered. Lucy was speedily revived, and
Robert made to go and take some rest, the
indefatigable Stevens dividing her time between
her mistress and little Harry.
About twelve o'clock. Padre Anastasio
made his appearance. Little Harry hid himself
beneath the sofa. " Is not Mr. Aylmer here ?"
the Padre asked of Stevens.
'' No, Sir," was the reply, while she slowly
tmned the key of a door near her.
LUCY AYLMER. 181
*' Am I to understand he is not at home ?"
and the Padre looked searchingly in her
" I did not say that, Sir," she repKed,
looking uncommonly pert, ''but master is
asleep, and not to be disturbed on any con-
sideration whatsoever. I had mv orders straight
from the doctor. Sir."
The Padre muttered something in Italian
between his teeth, and then asked, " Is Mr.
Aylmer ill then ?"
" No, Sir, but mistress is, and master's been
watching by her all night, and so now the
doctor made him leave her to get some rest,
because it distresses mistress to see him look
so worn out."
" But T want particularly to see your
master. I can wait till he awakes." The Padre
seated himself by the table, and opened a
book, it was the " Pilgrim's Progress," an
illustrated edition, which little Harry had had
for his amusement, as the pictures could
testify by the numberless Httle finger marks.
" It is not much use waiting for master,
Sir, because now he has once gone to sleep,
it's Hkely he will sleep a good time."
]82 ' LUCY AYLMER.
" I can wait," was the terse reply.
Stevens here quietly abstracted the key she
had turned, and hurried it into her pocket.
It was the key of the room where Robert was
" Has Mr. Erresford been here ?" asked
the priest — here little Harry thought proper
to put forth his head and call, " Ugly man —
ugly man !" and pursed up his hps in a pout
at the Padre, at which that dignitary looked
surprised and bestowed on him the epithet of
" little demon ;" the words, however, being in
his own native Italian, failed in effect — and
still crying, " Ugly man — ugly man !" the child
shpped from his hiding-place, and made for
his mother's room ; and before Stevens could
stop him, he had bounded in and awoke her
from a pleasant sleep, to the unpleasant
consciousness that her heart's dread, the
Padre, was in the adjoining apartment. This
discovery put her into a trepidation, which
was heightened by Harry, who had mounted
her pillow calling every moment, " Mamma,
ugly man — ugly man there — ugly man, all
black; mamma, make him go away!"
" Hush, Harry, hush ! that is very naughty,
LUCY AYLMEa. 183
you must be still," and Lucy strained every
nerve to catch the sounds, and to hear if
Robert were there ; but the only voices
discernible, were the Padre speaking his
gruffest, and Stevens her pertest. Lucy was
alarmed : she trembled violently, and began to
pray that Robert might not be fetched away
from her. Presently Robert's voice was added
to the others, and a door shook rather
violently. Lucy's terror was increased, and
scarcely kno\Aang what she did, she got up
and began dressing hastily. The clamour in
the sitting-room changed into a sudden
quietude by the sound of a fall, and a scream
from little Harry, who came running in
crying, " Mamma's dead ! Mamma's dead." —
In the midst of this confusion, the outer
door opened, and Cecil Erresford entered. The
bright look on his countenance changed to one
of surprise and some alarm at the scene
which presented itself to him ; the priest, his
eyes flashing with anger, and the tones of his
voice indignant. Stevens, her face crimson
and tearful, darting across the ro*m, followed
by Robert, whose countenance was deadly
pale. Little Harry, who had been upset by
184 LUCY AYLMER.
Stevens, in her hurry, was screaming lustily.
Cecil hastily lifted him up, took him in his
arms, and in a few minutes, by the aid of his
ticking watch, and a little coaxing, succeeded
in quieting the child. Then he turned to the
the Padre, who stood muttering to himself in
angry tones. " What has happened. Padre?"
" If I had my way, every heretic should be
turned out of Rome !" he exclaimed, without
heeding Cecil's enquiry.
" Pray explain what occasions this disturb-
" Mamma very ill," put in the child.
" Mamma fall down."
" Is Mrs. Aylmer ill ?" Cecil asked in a
tone of alarm.
" I know nothing of her ; but this I know,
that you and she will have to answer for the
soul of her husband !" and with this outburst
the Padre left the room, shutting the door
with a thundering sound, which echoed
through the house.
At his esit, Stevens returned. " Oh ! Sir,
oh ! Mr. Erresford ! if you would go quick,
for Dr. Bates — we've killed her between us !
LUCY AYLMER. 185
I dare not leave master — he is nearly mad 1
Oh ! if we had never set foot in this horrid
" What has happened to your mistress ?"
Cecil asked of the frightened maid.
" Oh, Sir ! she has fainted dead off again,
all through that meddling old priest ! and I,
thinking it all for the best — locked master s
door — and the priest — oh ! Sir, he was in a
fury ! though I did open it directly master
awoke, and shook the lock — oh, we have been
the death of her ! she is dead now, I know
it !" and Stevens wrung her hands.
Cecil rose up hastily : he felt the floor whirl
under his feet — he staggered forward and
went out into the street, scarce knowing where
he was. Oh ! it must be a delusion that the
gentle, loving Lucy, that one being on earth
whose goodness was undimmed by the
world; who, only for a few hours ago had
planned with him how they should endeavour
to rescue her husband from the power of the
priests, and induce him to return to England —
could it be that she was gone for ever from
sight ? Cecil's heart was full of sorrow — he
groaned aloud. " Oh Heavens ! she must
186 LUCY AYLMER.
not die — that bright, fair angel thing !" He
hurried on. The physician was at home; he
knew Cecil well, and was welcoming him
gladly, w^hen Cecil explained the purport of
Dr. Bates rose hastily. " Ah ! poor thing,"
he said, more to himself than for Cecil's
hearing, "if this continues, I am afraid she
cannot last long !" ^*
Cecil trembled. " She is very dear at home,"
he said " her father's heart would be broken —
and her husband's — poor Robert ! he lived a
happy hfe, till Mostyn and my sister led him
When they arrived at Aylmer's rooms,
Cecil heard vdth a feeling of intense relief,
that Lucy had recovered from the fainting
"Ah!" said Dr. Bates, "she mav revive
now, but I cannot answer for her recovering
another time !"
There was utter stillness in those rooms the
rest of that day : the doctor came in and out
almost every hour. He told Robert that unless
he wished to kill Lucy, he must exercise com-
mand over himself, and act like a rational
LUCY AYLMER. 187
being; and he enjoined Stevens to be calm
and keep her station, and to let her love for
her mistress predominate over every other
"Will she recover?" Cecil asked, as he
carried little Harry away with him to his
" I cannot tell, God only knows," was the
shift rt reply.
The clock was ticking out the day — the
lamp in Lucy's room gave just sufficient light
for Robert to see to read — and what was he
reading ? A page from that book, which of all
others is the fear and dread of every true
follower of the faith to which he now belonged.
In this book he came upon the very words
which had startled Lady Anne -. " Thou shalt
worship the Lord thy God, and Him only
shalt thou serve." They touched Robert's
conscience — he finished the chapter, but still
they haunted him — he was silent a moment,
when Lucy's voice asked in feeble accents :
" Are you tired, Robert ?"
" Dearest, no ! I thought you were
" No, dear ! I only closed my eyes because
188 LUCY AYLMER.
I seem to see angels floating before me when
I do so. Read again, dearest."
He read ; but his voice faltered painfully.
Some one came softly in, and taking the Bible
from him, sat down and repeated, in a deep-
toned solemn voice, the parable of the " Pro-
digal Son." Robert scarcely knew it was Dr.
Bates — he fancied it was almost a dream, and
he sat with his head bent down on his out-
stretched hands, the curtain hiding him from
Lucy's view. The clocks chimed out the last
hour of the Sabbath. Robert started — the
Bible and his suffering wife had dealt a severe
blow at the foundation of the faith of this
weak son of the church.
At the same hour, the Padre Anastasio sat
in a gloomy room alone.
" Ha !" he said to himself, " she will soon
die, that heretic woman ! and then her
husband will be freed — he will be ours body
and soul. Ha ! I will pray for the speedy
death of this heretic woman !"
LUCY ATLMER. 189
Yes ! the unseen land
Of glorious visions hath sent forth a voice,
To call me hence. Oh ! be thou not deceived !
'' My darling Maude,
" I am afraid you must have been
anxious at not receiving my weekly letter at
the usual time ; but the reason is that I have
been rather unwell. I had a sudden fainting
fit, succeeded by slighter ones, which made
me feel weak and good-for-nothing for several
days. I am quite bonnie again, however,
and as happy as — but T can find no compari-
son to describe my happiness. You will
190 LTJCY AYLMER.
want to know what has caused it. Such a
reason ! Oh, Maude, we are coming liome to
dear Forsted ! I can scarcely write this
without stopping to clap my hands for joy —
it is dear Roloert's own proposal, without any
asking on my part. Is it not good of him?
and I am sure it will be good for him, as I
have not a doubt he will recover his health and
spirits, when once we are settled at home
again. You will find him sadly altered !
Dear fellow ! he reads the Bible to me every
day ! I have great hopes for liim, as Popery
must fall before the influence of the Bible. I
wish every single creature in Bome possessed
one ; but, alas ! one dares not distribute them.
Mr. Erresford travels home with us. We
start on Monday, the day after to-morrow,
and expect to be about ten days on our
journey. We have no wish to loiter en route.
But I will write to you again from one of our
first stages ; we shall have no trouble, as Mr.
Erresford is making every arrangement for us
so nicely. I do not think he forgets one
comfort for me. Stevens has taken to fits of
crying for joy at going home. It is to be
LUCY AYLMER. 191
hoped, her friend the bailiff at Preston Hall,
has remained faithful to her. She wears that
dreadful daguerreotype likeness of him on
Sunday in the midst of a profusion of pink
ribbons. I believe her John once told her
that colour was most becoming to her com-
" Father Anastasio does not at all like our
move homewards. I really do not think we could
get away if it were not for Cecil Erresford.
He manages everything wonderfully, even the
not to be managed Father ! Little Harry
has given him the name of " the nice man :"
he spoils my boy sadly. There is scarcely a
day he does not come to take the child out ;
and when he returns home, he is always laden
with more toys than I shall know where to
" Sad to say, Lady Anne is meditating
entering a convent next spring. Her brother
says little, but I know he feels deeply. I
believe he finds it useless arguing with
" What a Christmas we shall have ! I
know no other word to express it — but Harry's
192 LUCY AYLMER.
new and pet one, whicli Cecil Erresford has
taught him, " Jolly."
" Really Maude, my own old queen, I
ought to be twice as thankful as I am. This
day last week, home seemed so far off I began
to doubt if I should ever see it again. To-
day I can praise loudly, for out of what
seemed impenetrable darkness light has come.
So let us give glory where glory is due — for
from heaven and heaven alone cometh every
good thing !
" I must conclude this, or my husband,
for the first time in his married life will be
kept waiting for his dinner. Untold loves to
papa and you — Harry's kisses, Robert's love.
Another fortnight and I shall throw my arms
around my darling father's neck, and kiss you
once more in the beloved home, that Avill see
again its and your
" Ever loving
"P.S. You must not be anxious if you see
me looking rather paler and thinner than when
LUCY AYLMER. 193
we left, one puff of air from the dear Forsted
hills will blow me quite vigorous again !
" The mountain breezes from my native home,
My father's voice, my sister's loving kiss,
Ah ! these delights and joys, and these alone,
Will give me back my childhood's days of bliss.
" In that calm, happy spot, my life I'd pass.
Apart from noise and bustle, diu and strife,
And when old age and death shall come at last,
I'll sleep in peace and wake in glorious life.
•* I'll wake in Heaven, yes, fair sister, there,
Where angels beauteous walk in streets of gold.
Where martyrs, prophets, elders, praising share,
Joys, blessings, pleasures, glories, here untold."
Such was the letter Lucy Aylmer des-
patched to Forsted the Saturday after her
sudden illness, from which she had recovered
with surprising rapidity. Her mind and
thoughts were full of home ; every past
suffering, every hour of neglect, all were
forgotten in the prospect of her return to
the Manor. Robert was to become once
more a Protestant, and regain his living;
she was to spend a happy and useful life,
and her Harry grow up a good
VOL HI. K
194 LUCY AYLMER.
and noble boy, in happy England ! Such were
her hopes. Poor Robert was in a state of
terror ; he dared not leave the house alone,
for fear of encountering Padre Anastasio,
whose anger he dreaded from his innermost
heart ; and now he had resolved on leaving,
he counted the days and almost the hours
to his departure. Prom neglecting his wife,
he had gone to the opposite extreme of
making an idol of her. He watched her ever}^
look, and anticipated her slightest wish.
Robert had never prized his Lucy in the
palmiest days of their love, more than he did
then. The Padre had been refused admit-
tance several times on account of the agitation
he had caused Lucy, which had made the
doctor pronounce his presence highly injuri-
ous to her. Of course the Padre was very much
incensed, and sought an opportunity of meeting
Robert, but this, Cecil, who used every pre-
caution to prevent the priest regaining his
influence over him, entirely frustrated. Never-
theless the Padre yet hoped to get Robert
once more within his power — he knew his
weak temperament and did not despair ; but
now he was disappointed.
LUCY AYLMER. 195
" I have written to Maude, Robert dear,"
Lucy said as she folded her letter, " and I
have told her all about our coming home. Will
not papa be glad ?"
"To see you, Lucy; but what will he say
to me, his truant son-in-law, for all my mis-
" Hush, Robert ! do not become dismal.
Papa will be delighted to receive you. He may
laugh at us a little at first for our Roman
campaign ; but every one comes in for a share
of papa's fun. I like it !"
"But will he not upbraid me for your
altered looks, Lucy, and justly too ?"
" No, he will not, Robert, he will thank
you for bringing me to him. Just fancy
dear papa welcoming us home with his bright
look, and dear queen Maude ready to dart at
us and smother us all in her warm em-
"Maude is a good, kind girl," Robert
said, " and your father is sincere in his friend-
ship. But, Lucy, I have abused it sadly I
know ; and I feel it ! yes, Lucy, in spite of
Church and priests, I feel I have gone all
wrong the last year. Mostyn had no home
196 LUCY AYLMER.
ties, I had ; and what Mostyn could do it was
not for me to follow."
" Well, never mind, dear, that is all past
now, we must look forward, not back ;" she
put her head over his shoulder, and surprised
and silenced him with a kiss on his anxious,
After dinner, Robert entered readily into
the packing and arranging books — he would
not allow Lucy to assist him in any way, but
made her sit on a sofa near him, and talk : of
course home was the theme. In the midst of
this conversation Cecil came in.
" What, you packing, Aylmer !" he ex-
claimed. " AVhat a way to do it ! Mrs.
Aylmer, why do you not scold him ? He is
putting in the smallest books first. Oh, Bob !
such a hand as you always were at domestic
occupations ! Now, here am I, a poor, miser-
able bachelor ; and yet I understand all these
concerns, better than you, a veteran in mar-
ried life !"
Robert and Lucy laughed.
" Now, Aylmer, get out of the way !"
added Cecil ; and kneeling himself on the
floor, he turned the contents of the box out,
LUCY ATLMEU. 197
and commenced refilling it in a most precise
neat manner. At this moment a door opened,
and in bounded Harry, with a httle whip in his
hand, and cKmbing oii Cecil's back, he called
" Dear man — gee, wo — jolly horse !"
" Oh, you young rogue !" exclaimed Cecil,
" where did you spring from ?"
"You have made him the wildest boy
imaginable," said Lucy. "Poor Stevens de-
clares ' Mr, Erresford has raised his spirits to
an eminence,- from which he overmasters
her !' "
" I never saw such an oddity as that
Stevens ; her airs and graces are quite enter-
taining ! — Bob, give me that pile of books off
the table — oh, you rogue of a fellow — ^you will
pull all the hair out of my head !" and with
a sudden turn, Cecil rolled Harry over into
the book box. There were shrieks of laughter,
then Lucy lifted him out, his curls all tangled
together. She could not quiet his excited
spirits, nor get him to sit quietly in her lap,
until Cecil pulled from his pocket some extra-
ordinary French toy representing two bears.
198 LUCY AYLMER.
who danced a polka by means of a string,
which dchghted the child so intensely, that the
sound of his voice Avas not heard for some
minutes Lucy wanted very much to have a
hand in Cecil's task of packing ; but he would
not hear of it, and made her sit " in state," as
he called it, without her work, which was a
prh^ation to her . industrious little fingers.
When the packing was at length successfully
finished, Cecil proposed they should take a
stroll; but it was becoming dusk, and
Robert's dread of encountering the Padre was
an obstacle to any pleasure they might derive
from the walk; so instead of their ramble,
Cecil spent the evening with them, and made
them merry by his animated conversation, and
Robert declared he " felt quite young again."
At this speech, Lucy was greatly enter-
tained. Good little wife ! she did her part in
the evening's amusement, by singing with-
out accompaniment sundry old songs so
pathetically, that Robert could not restrain
l\is tears, and Cecil had recourse to various
little manoeuvres to conceal his emotion. The
last song was " The Land of the Leal ;" at its
conclusion, Cecil rose, and sighed.
LUCY AYLMER. 199
" What is the matter ?" Lucy asked.
" You are a very naughty little woman to
sing such melancholy songs," he replied.
" Poor John ! one pities him from the heart.
But I must run away, now. I know you are
" Will you come to-morrow morning, and
take Lucy to church ?" Robert asked. ^
" To be sure I will." Then turning rather
slyly towards Robert, he said, " If the wife
goes, will not the husband come too?"
Robert coloured deeply.
" Not here," he said. " Wait till we are
in England again. I may be persuaded to
many things when I am there."
" Oh 1 come to-morrow, Robert," Lucy
said pleadingly, as she laid her hand on his
" Lucy dear, you forget T am a Catholic,"
he repHed, as he gently stroked her hand.
" Yes I do. I forget everything but the
delight it would be to have you once more
with me in church." She looked so sweetly
in his face, that Cecil thought Robert must
" Catholic though I am, I will promise you
200 LUCY AYLMER.
to go to church the next Sunday, if you will
only excuse me this. I could not, Lucy,,
indeed, enter the church here."
" Oh ! Aylmer, go !" Cecil said. " The
prayers will not hurt you, or the sermon ;
and where Mrs. Aylmer sits, you would never
be noticed. It is such a quiet corner."
" To-morrow week must do," Robert
repHed, looking very uncomfortable.
Lucy did not ask again, but said in her
sweet, gentle tones :
" I shall count the days till next Sunday."
" Oh ! Bob, believe me, the best time for
everything is now," urged Cecil.
" Never mind," said Lucy, '' We must not
teaze poor Robert."
" Oh ! it does him good to be teazed some-
times," replied Cecil, archly.
*' But, Mr. Erresford, Robert might as well
ask us to attend his service with him."
" I should not mind it," replied Cecil.
" No, it could not do me any harm," said
" Done then !" exclaimed Cecil. " Bob,
we will come to terms. You shall accompany
LUCY AYLMER. 201
US in the morning, and we will go with you
in the afternoon. That is quite fair."
" You are as much a school-boy as you were
sixteen years ago, Erresford," replied Robert.
" No evasions, Bob — you will agree, will
you not ? Nothing is easier."
" For me nothing could be more difficult,"
Robert answered. '' Erresford, say no more ;
it is impossible. In England, you will not ask
in vain. I will please you then, even against
my conscience. But here, in the face of the
Church, the thing cannot be."
A slight shade of disappointment rested
for a moment on Lucy's fair face, but only for
a moment, the next, it was dissipated by a
smile ; and she said :
" Never mind, Robert dear ! we were
rather hard upon you."
"Then to-morrow at a quarter to eleven."
"I know you are punctuality itself," said
Cecil. " Adieu, ladye fayre — adieu, sister
" Adieu, brother Cecil. Vous etes toujour s
gai," she smilingly replied.
" I am wearing off the effects of the ' Land
202 LUCY AYLMER.
o' the Leal/ I know I shall dream to-night I
am ' John/ "
" What an idea !" said Robert.
" Upon my word, I must go. I have
kept sister Lucy standing at least ten minutes/'
He shook hands with Lucy, turned back, and
nodded to her. And then Robert accom-
panied him down-stairs.
Cecil did not dream of " the Land o' the
Leal ;" but Robert did ; and the dream made
a great impression upon him. As Lucy was
making breakfast on the Sunday morning, after
some silence Robert said :
"It is a beautifully bright morning,
*' It is, indeed," she replied, looking from
the window. "It is more like an August
morning than the last Sunday in November.
Just observe the sky !"
" Yes, very clear and bright. Lucy ! I shall
go to church with you/' This was said rather
" Oh ! dear Robert, thank you !" Lucy ex-
claimed, while a brilliant colour lighted up
her whole countenance, then vanished, leaving
it paler than before.
LUCY AYLMER, 203
"Yes, I shall like it," he said. Then
presently, he added : "I dreamt about you
and your last song, Lucy — such a strange
" Did you ?" she replied smiling. " It was
very natural after all Cecil Erresford said
" Do you think so ?" Robert asked. He
did not tell Lucy he dreamt she had died in
the midst of singing that song ! This dream
so haunted him, that he could not bear to
leave her, and that was the cause of his
sudden determination to accompany her to
" I can fancy how joyful papa and Maude
will be when they receive my letter," Lucy
said. " The Forsted bells will be sure to rhig
when we arrive at home."
Robert smiled, but the smile disappeared in
" I think papa will find Harry very much
improved, do you not, Robert ?" Lucy asked.
"Yes, he is a handsome little fellow,
wonderfully like your family."
" Oh 1 he is only like papa and Maude.
204 LUCY AYLMER.
Beautiful Maude, I wonder if she will ever
" Lucy, can you ever doubt it? Perhaps,
she has set her face against matrimony, seeing
the wretched husband I have made,"
" Silly Robert 1 I am sure when Maude
spent any time at the Parsonage, she must
have longed for just such a home and husband
as mine 1" Lucy rose from the table and
patted his shoulder lovingly, then looking at
her watch she said : " We are late this
" No, I do not think so, Lucy," and Robert
wheeling back his chair sat thoughtfully and
Lucy took up her Bible, and read till a bell
chimed half-past ten.
Precisely at the time appointed, Cecil made
his appearance. Lucy had resumed her seat
and her Bible, and was reading alone — she
looked very sweet and pretty, dressed with'
more than usual care in a dress and cloak
of dark blue, with handsome chinchilla furs,
a gift of the Countess. Her bonnet was the
only shabby part of her toilette — economy for
LUCY ATLMER. 205
Robert had prevented her purchasing a new
one, but she had tied a white veil over it,
and the folds of lace hanging around her
face, gave a pretty shade, and concealed any
imperfections in her bonnet. When Cecil
entered, she greeted him with a joyous
"He is coming !" were her first words.
" Who, Harry?" asked Cecil.
" No, no, Robert ! Oh, dear, how happy 1
am !" She said these last words with a sort of
childlike sigh of overflowering joy.
" Ah ! poor old Robert ! he will come
round yet, and make as good a Protestant as
any of us !" Cecil said with a bright look,
which showed how he entered into her
" You have always been so kind to Robert,
and never despaired about him," said Lucy.
" Poor fellow ! no, why should I ? Besides
a little consideration and interest do more
for a man than shunning and upbraiding
" I wish every one would think so," Lucy
began ; but she ceased, for Robert came in.
Lucy felt proud of him — it seemed to her hke
206 LUCY AYLMER.
Forsted not Rome, and she could have fancied
their steps were wending to old St. Walburga,
not to the English Consulate Church, as after
bidding good-bye to little Harry, she took
Robert's arm, and walked along the dirty
looking streets. Robert might have passed
for an English clergym-an again in his black
dress. Ah ! how Lucy wished he had been
going to officiate !
" But, hush, impatient Lucy !" she said to
herself. " That will, all come again in God's
good time !" Cecil talked little en route — he
liked to listen to his companions. Lucy tried
to fill Robert's mind with pleasant thoughts.
The walk to church was not long ; and when
there, Lucy gave up her quiet corner to
Robert, that he might feel secluded and un-
noticed ; and yet she almost longed he should
be seen, that people might know he was not
shunning the worship of his fathers. The kind
physician, who had attended Lucy, saw him,
and felt very glad ; but by most he was un-
observed. Gently Lucy placed an open
prayer-book before Robert, and whispered
" Robert, I am so happy !" Silently he
LUCY AYLMER. 207
pressed her hand — then the sendee began.
Slowly and feelingly it was read — it thrilled
through Robert's heart. Had it ever sounded
to him as it did that day ? Did not every one
of those prayers, every word of the service he
had so often read reverently but heartlessly,
now rise up in judgment against him for his
apostacy ? Did not every word of it con-
tradict Popery, and the forms and ceremonies
to which he had bowed down ? Ah ! it
seemed so to him ! His head was bent low ;
he trembled — the glare and glitter of Popery,
with its arts and wiles, passed from before
his eyes, and left him, as it were, on the sands
— the ocean of life, with its ceaseless roar,
rushed upon him, and he knew not how to
flee ! At length, the hymn before the sermon
came — it w^as Advent Sunday, Lucy's voice
rose with joy in the beautiful Advent hymn.
Cecil listened, and Robert's voice, so silent
during the responses, softly mingled with his
Lucy's. Then Cecil sang too and rejoiced !
It was over, and Robert barkened to the words
of the text : it w^as taken from the first chap-
ter of the Revelations, and part of the seventh
208 LUCY AYLMER.
verse, " Behold he cometh with clouds ;
and every eye shall see him."
" It is a glad and joyful day/' these were
the opening words of the sermon. "Yes/*
thought Lucy, "yes, 'tis true !" She rested
her hand in Robert's, and left it there.
Then the clergyman spoke of Christ's
Advent, its glories, of those who will share
the glories, and of those who will feel it ter-
rible ; then of the heavenly train who will
attend the Saviour at His second cominor —
saints, angels, prophets, martyrs. On the
last word, he paused, and dwelt on those who
shall come out of tribulation — not those who
had suffered great tribulations only, but those
who endure silently lesser tribulations, un-
known to the world. Suddenly he said :
" There may be some here who have suf-
fered these latter tribulations patiently and
enduringly. This may be your day of relief;
it may be that your tribulation is removed,
and brighter, happier days on earth are in
store, which dawn upon you now ; or it may
be, your Father will send an angel to bring
you up to Him — your trials unaltered, un-
LUCY AYLMER. 209
soothed, left behind ; and at Heaven's gate,
for your cross you "\vill receive a crown — for
days of suffering you will inherit a life of
The whole sermon Lucy heard with intense
interest, and it concluded wdth six lines from
her favourite poet, George Herbert :
" Awake ! sad heart, whom sorrow ever drowns ;
Take up thine ejes v.hich feed on earth ;
Unfold thy forehead, gathered into frowns ;
The Savioor comes, and with him mirth.
Awake ! awake !
And with a thankful heart thy comfort take."
The Service w as ended. Robert had heard
every word of it. He felt strangely altered
from what he had been ! They rose and left
the church immediately to avoid meeting the
congregation. The sun shone brightly ; the
air was balmy, almost hot. Lucy said :
" I wonder if it is like this at home, or
if the valley is filled with a November
" We shall soon see for ourselves how home
looks," Cecil replied. Then after a pause
210 LUCr AYLMER.
he added, " That was a splendid sermon,
"Yes," was the monosyllabic answer.
" That man knows what he is about," said
Cecil, addressing Robert again.
" Yes ! I wish I had heard him before," was
Cecil looked at Lucy. Her face was
" You are tired, Mrs. Aylmer ?"
" Not very. I have dressed rather too
heavily for the day."
" Let me carry those furs for you," said
Cecil, taking her muff and boa into his
possession ; while Robert looked anxious, and
" Dear, you are not ill ?"
" No, Robert, dearest ! nor thinking of
such a thing. You must remember it is my
first day of going out, and I noticed several
people besides myself seemed to feel the air
" You look so pale !" Robert said.
" Would you like a carriage ?" Cecil asked,
becoming rather anxious in his turn.
LUCY AYLMER. 211
" Thank you — indeed no ; you must not
make such a fuss about me !" Lucy said,
smihng. " You must often expect to see me
pale when I am tired. Besides, 1 never am
" You are getting all right now. Upon
my word, you frightened me !" Cecil said.
"Robert was quite pale himself, from sym-
They walked quietly on, speaking a little
of their intended journey, much of the ser-
mon, Robert rather listening than joining in
the conversation. When they reached the
entrance of the Aylmer's dwelling, Lucy
" You must come in, Mr. Erresford, and
dine with us."
" I would gladly if I could, but I stumbled
on an old bachelor acquaintance yesterday,
who asked me to meet him to-day to dine
together. I intend trying to get him to
church this afternoon. I only hope we may
hear as good a sermon as we did this morn-
ing. My acquaintance is not a Roman Catholic,
Aylmer, but an Unitarian. I like to do
212 LUCY AYLMER.
good to my friends if I can on Sunday, and
this day is so warmly bright, that I feel as if
my heart could call every man, woman, and
child in this city brother and sister, and wish
I could benefit every one of them !"
" I would gladly help you," Lucy
''Ah, well ! we must do good Avhere we
can, and for the rest, the same Providence
watches over, and the same heaven is ready
to receive all who look up to it !" he looked
up too, the sky was so cloudless — " good-bye,
Mrs. Aylmer !"
" I Avish Erresford, you and my wife would
call each other by your baptismal names, it
will strengthen our friendship."
"Readily!" exclaimed Cecil, "but I shall
not say good-bye, only au revoir, Lucy,
till five o'clock to-morrow morning, the happy
twenty-ninth ! We have made one step
homewards by that packing yesterday ; to-
morrow we march in good earnest. Au revoir,
Aylmer, au revoir, Lucy !"
" Au revoir I Cecil. I feel exactly as if I
should be really home to-morrow, only in
LUCY AYLMER. 213
anticipation of the starting — au revoir /" were
Lucy's last words, as they disappeared
through the dark archway.
Cecil saw their shadows depart, then ex-
claimed : " Thank God they are re-united 1"
he went on to finish the day as he had com-
menced it, in friendship and good works.
Lucy paused one moment to speak a few
kind, simple words to old Pietro the land-
lord, who generally opened his door to see
her pass, and whose tears flowed at the near
prospect of beholding her no more. When
Lucy reached their etage, she was really tired,
but she did not complain — Robert only saw
her joy. Harry dined with them ; Stevens
waited on them, and there was not one cloud
in that dismantled, dismal-looking room, from
which every ornament but Lucy's presence
was taken. They were to start so early on
the morrow, that every possible package had
been got ready on the preceding day. Stevens,
as usual, went to church in the afternoon,
and obtained permission from Lucy to take
Harry with her, and to pay a farewell visit
after service to a friend who had arrived in
214 LUCY AYLMER.
Rome a few weeks previously, as maid to an
English fiimily come to winter there.
After Stevens w^as gone, Lucy rested against
the window : it was open, and a breeze came
in balmy and warm. She leant her head on
her hand, and looked up at the sky and
sunshine. Robert had been watching her
with an anxious expression on his counte-
nance. He came up, and putting his arm
round Lucy's waist, said :
"Do you feel ill, Lucy? Your lips are
pale, and you tremble."
" I feel rather faint," was the reply.
Robert's countenance expressed fear and
trouble. "Lie down, my Lucy," he said,
" the walk to church has been too much for
you ;" he guided her to the sofa, and gently
placed her there, then fetching pillows from
an adjoining room, piled them beneath her
" Thank you, dear, that is better," she said
Robert brought her salts-bottle and some
cold water, but they did not seem to revive
her very much. Her husband's forehead wore
LUCY AYLMER. 215
marks of sorrow, his lips quivered, " Is this
like you felt before ?" he asked.
" No, not so bad," she replied faintly.
" I shall send Pietro for Dr. Bates," Robert
said nervously ; " my darling, I shall only
leave you one moment."
He hastily descended the stairs and des-
patched the grieved old landlord for the
physician with the message that the Signora
was ill again.
Robert hurried back to Lucy, and kneeling
by her side, supported her head on his arm.
He was much more calm than he had been
before, and acted quietly and without agitat-
ing her. There were some restorative medi-
cines in Lucy's room that she had used
before ; Robert tried these, but they failed to
rouse her from what seemed stupor.
"Lucy, darling, what do you feel?" he
" It feels like death," she replied, in a
scarcely audible voice, " but I am not afraid."
Robert's face was almost convulsed mth
agony ; and large drops stood on his brow, as
he bent over Lucy and bathed her forehead
and lips with water. She shivered and heaved
21 G LUCY AYLMER.
a deep sigh. " Are you cold, dearest ?" he
asked. She made no reply — he brought a
coverlid aud laid it over her, and placed a
cloak across her feet, they were icy cold. As
if with a great effort she said, " Thank you
dear, it is very sudden — ^liold my hand" — he
took her hand in his, that precious little
hand ! which had rested so often confidingly
in his, and on whose finger such a short time
back, it seemed to him now as yesterday, he
had placed the ring that glittered there, the
seal of her much abused love ! She lay quite
still, her eyes closed, her soft shining braids
parted over her calm face — it was childlike,
innocent, fair as on their wedding-morn —
sorrow had been there, but it had left no trace
behind — sorrow had been there ? Ah yes ! as
her husband watched by her, that knowledge
pierced his wounded heart — sorrow had been
there I oh, who had caused it ? His own con-
science answered, " Thou art the man !" The
lines on his forehead deepened ; he pressed his
hands on it to force back the agony, but it
would not go ; it tarried there to torture him !
It brought before his mind the days when he
had guided her infant steps along the lawn,
LUCY AYLMER, 217
and wove daisies into garlands to hang around
her neck. It showed as though it were a
thing of yesterday, the scenes of their gambols
and merry games — the old fireside chair,
where Lucy had sat on his knee and listened
to tales of his school life — it took him on to
his college days, sweetened by vacation trips
to the Manor, where no voice gave gentler
welcom.e, or more loving words than his little
Lucy. It reminded him of his ordination
vows — all broken and forgotten. It dwelt on
his matured love, his winning the fair Lucy —
the joy, the delight, the cloudless morn when
vow was given for vow — her's alone remaining
unbroken. It showed him happy pastoral life,
aU glowing with her love ; it forced upon him
his apostacy, his desertion ; and to complete
all, to heighten his agony, it pictured lier
grief, her devotion, the little grave beneath the
roses — their reunion, the many opportunities
given him for repentance — the daily sorrow
of her life — the wreck of her health. It showed
him death, a grave in a foreign land, a white
grave stone, on which that much abused
name, " Lucy," was traced in deep dark
VOL. III. L
218 LUCY AYLMER.
letters. It left him there holding still that
little hand, looking still on that loving brow,
so pale, so cloudless, he scarcely knew if the
angel of death were there, or if hfe and hope
yet lingered. The sun was setting, it hghted
up her couch with its rays of crimson and
gold, o'ershadowing her face with its glory.
Her eyes slowly opened, she said, "It is
beautiful going home."
Her husband bent his head to catch her
words, " Darling !" she continued, in a caress-
ing voice, " darling, I must leave you. Let me
rest by our baby's grave — take care of Harry,
and meet me again !"
" Sweetest !" he said, in a low, hoarse voice,
" you are too young to die."
She did not heed him. " Kiss them all,
and tell them gently," she murmured in a
dreamy tone — she was silent some moments,
then opening her eyes and resting them on
him with a smile, she said in a tone of
unspeakable love " Dear, darling !"
As Robert stooped to kiss her, he whispered,
'' Forgive me — my angel !"
" He will," she replied, "he forgives all !"
LUCY ATLMER. 219
she closed her eyes again with the prayer,
" guard and love my darHng husband !"
The dusk of evening gathered. The moments
seemed to Robert to fly fast ; he had forgotten
the Doctor; no thought was present to him
but his Lucy. Again he parted the hair from
her brow, and kissed her hps. She moved ;
withdrew her hand from his and placed it
beneath her head. "It is very peaceful,
sweet ; read me to sleep." A moment after,
she murmured " The Lord is my Shepherd !"
Robert thought she wished the Psalm repeated,
and bending over her, he began it in a low
voice. She smiled sweetly, " I shall take that
with me, Robert darling, the ' prayer for the
dying !' "
Her prayer book lay on a table near ; and
kneeling by her couch, he, who a few short
months ago, had deserted her to enter the
Romish priesthood, now read once again
prayers from the church he had forsaken, over
the form of his meek and gentle wife ! It
was dark, he had ceased to read, and sat still
and almost breathless by her side. The door
opened noiselessly ; he heard it not, his every
nerve was strained in thought for his Lucy,
220 LUCY AYLMER.
and when the doctor groped his way through
the room faintly Hghted by the moonbeams,
and stood by her couch, with the whispered
words " a pressing case detained me,"
Robert's scarcely audible voice replied —
" Hush, she sleeps !"
LUCY AYLMER. 221
All, pity! The lily is withered, the purple of the violet
turned into paleness.
Snow flakes gathered around the Manor.
The old hall fire was lighted again ; there were
bright laurels around the pictures, and the
stags' heads were wreathed with holly. It
was the month of December, when Maude
Neville entered a low, thatched cottage in the
village. An old man rose from his seat in the
chimney-corner, and leaning on his stick, said
" A good day to ye, Miss Maude."
" Sit down, Robbins, or I will not stay,"
she replied ; '* how is your rheumatism ?"
" Oh, Miss Maude, it be gone ! I've walked
as far as Farmer Perkins' this ere morning, to
222 LUCY AYLMER.
beg a bit of holly to smarten my old place
against Miss Lucy and the Parson comes.
Ye see, Miss Maude, the saucepans are quite
" Yes ! you have made them look very
smart. Lucy will be sure to pay you a visit
soon after she arrives at home."
" Miss Maude, 1 be so grieved for her poor
" Yes," said Maude, with a momentary
shade on her brow, " I wish poor old Tawney
had live:l to welcome her home. Papa and I
buried him under the great cedar by Lucy's
garden, and have piled a pointed heap of flints
to mark his grave."
The old man brushed his rough hand over
his eyes. " My poor old 'oman used to set
such store by the dog, when Miss Lucy
brought him down to our little place ; but of
all them there. Miss Lucy be the only one
left. Well, the old uns go first ! my old 'onian
would ha' been seventy-five year come next
Branstone fair, if she'd been spared a little
longer ! and it's twelve year ago this Christmas
since I went to Preston Hall, and brought the
Squire home that 'ere dog !"
LUCY AYLMER. 223
Maude, during the old man's speech, was
busy pulling something from her pocket,
which being rather larger than the pocket
itself, was somewhat difficult to get out. At
last, however, a rather strange-looking parcel
made its appearance. Maude laughed to her-
self as going up to the old man, who was
rather deaf, she said, " Robbins, what do you
think I have brought you in my pocket ?"
" Lor, Miss, something nice — I'll be
" Oh ! it is something very queer for a
pocket," said Maude.
" Lor, Miss Maude, I've knowed you and
Miss Lucy fill your little pockets afore this
with all manners o' things ! There was
little clay baskets, and stones and baked
taters — bless your hearts ! — and there was
turnips for my old 'oman !"
"Well, I have brought you a tongue, a
home-cured tongue ; and Ralph is to bring
you a piece of veal. Papa wants every one
to be merry when Lucy retiurns — so papa is
to send you something warm with the veal,
to help you drink Lucy's health."
" Bless the Squire and Miss Lucy and
224 LUCY AYLMER.
Miss Maude and all!" said the old man
nearly crying. " I only wish my old hands
was stronger, that I could help them ringers,
and give the first peal for Miss Lucy ! Bless
her dear heart ! I could kiss the ground on
which 1 see her stand !"
" That would be doing rather too much,
Robbins," said Maude laughing. " I will let
you know the very minute Lucy arrives.
Ralph shall come down with the cart and
bring you up, and then you will get a first
sight of her — good-by ! Now do not get up,
T know the latch." And Maude went out
again into the snowy little village, followed
by the blessings of the superannuated gar-
It was a foggy -looking morning, and the
snow-covered gardens and pasture-lands wore
a desolate appearance. But Maude's heart
was glad, for soon she would hold in her
embrace her loved sister, the companion of
her childhood's days. She went from cottage
to cottage proclaiming the ncAvs; and from
every mouth w^as the glad tidings echoed
that " our parson and Miss Lucy were
coming home !" and in the excess of their
LUCY AYLMER. 225
delight did a few of the most high-spirited
forego their dinner hour, and send forth a
merry peal from St. Walburga's old snowy
tower, in anticipation of their return.
It was not till nearly three o'clock that
Maude went home, humming as she walked
the solitary road, " Sweet Lucy Neal." She
shut the gate with a swing, and made a
short cut over the snowy lawn towards the
house. Some of her father's sporting dogs
which were near the door, came running up
to her, and rubbed their noses against her
"Well, old fellows," she said, caressing
them, " why is it you are not out with your
master ? Eh, old doggies ?"
The dogs looked up inquisitively at her
with their soft deep eyes, and followed her
closely to the hall door, where she shut them
all out. The fire burned low and Maude
put a log on it from the wood box. Then
throwing her mufip on the table, she went
into the dining-room, where dinner was
laid for two.
" Is papa at home, Morris ?" Maude asked
in some surprise ; '' I thought he was going
226 LUCY AYLMER.
over to Preston Hall with the dogs. I should
have been in before, if I had known he
would remain at home."
" Master is in the library, Miss. A letter
came directly after you went, and master
took it in there, and has not stirred since."
Maude looked alarmed. " There is no fire
in the library, and papa never sits there — I
shall go and see. You can bring in the
dinner, I am very hungry."
Maude's thick boots sounded on the oak
floor, as she crossed the hall, and opened the
She started when she saw her father
seated in an old arm-chair before the table
on which his arms were crossed and his
head rested down on them. His back was
towards Maude, he did not see her enter.
She stood still a moment, then going up to
his chair, she threw her arms over his shoul-
ders, and rested her cheek on his head.
The Squire moved back suddenly, and
drawing her close to. him exclaimed, in a
voice of hopeless misery : " Maude, my only
Maude's eyes looked down on the open
LUCY AYLMER. 227
letter lying on the table blistered with tears.
A black border surrounded it. The truth
flashed on her in a moment, and like a Avhirl-
wind it swept her bright hopes away.
" She is dead 1" Maude shrieked ; and her
voice echoed through the lone old mansion, as
she rushed from that cold, dreary room. The
wind blew against her face. She hurried out
through the garden door, up the shrubberied
walk, where she and Lucy had been wont to
stroll, arm linked in arm. Then, on a rustic seat,
all crisp with snow, beneath the shade of the
great cedar-tree, she threw herself down and
covered her face with her hands, rocking to
and fro to the dreary accompaniment of the
sighing wind. " She is gone ! — she is gone !
oh ! Lucy !" were the words her hps uttered,
mingled with an unsuppressed cry, " Oh !
cruel, cruel ! to take her from us !" She sat
there a long time thus bewailing, until the
sound of a footstep awoke her for a moment
from her misery. She looked up hastily.
She was too much absorbed in her own sorrow
to feel any surprise when she saw Cecil
Erresford close by her side.
" Maude !" he said, in a pitying, gentle
228 LUCY AYLMER.
voice, " they told me you had gone away up
the shrubberies; and I came to seek you."
" Oh ! leave me — leave me !" she exclaimed.
" Just as my happiness seemed so complete !
Oh ! it was a cruel Providence which took my
Lucy from me."
"Hush, Maude!" he said, softly. "She
was wanted in Heaven. You would not
wish her back again ?"
" You cannot comfort me. Oh, no ! you
can know nothing of what I feel. You never
loved her, idohzed her as I have done !"
" Maude," he replied, gravely, " I did love
her truly once, with intense love," he lifted, as
he spoke, his hat from his head. " But it is
past now," he added. " All human love is
needless. She rests in Heaven ; and could
she speak to us from her bright home, she
would teach us patience and resignation."
" I cannot learn them," Maude passionately
exclaimed ; "for me these words do not exist !
Oh ! why did Robert go to a foreign land,
and kill her there ?"
Again were Cecil's words :
" Hush, Maude ! Robert's grief is far
greater than ours. Upbraid him not. It
LUCY AYLMER. 229
was Heaven's good time — no act of Robert's
sent her to her grave."
" A grave in a foreign, hateful land !" ex-
claimed Maude bitterly. " No one will plant
roses there, or weep over the loved one that
rests beneath the sod !" The echo from the
hills sent back Maude's wild cry.
" Maude, our sister sleeps in no lonely grave.
Her mortal rest will be beneath the shadows
of her native hills ! It was her dying request
to lie beside her infant's grave."
Then tears rolled down Maude's proud face.
She looked up, and, in a softened tone said :
" Tell me of her — did you see her die ?"
*' When last I saw her, it was on the
Sabbath morn. Her face was cloudless, and
death seemed far away. 1 stood once again
beside her coffin, and kissed our sister's cold
brow. But it was not our Lucy ; she was
far away where ' Angels sweet a careful
watching o'er our sister keep.' "
Maude rose and drew her veil over her
" Come," she said, " walk with me, and tell
me all you know."
" She had been ill — very ill !" he rephed ;
230 LUCY AYLMER.
" SO that for one night her Ufe was in danger.
She would not let you know; 'twould marr
your happiness, she said ; and- it was quickly
passed ; but still her physician feared. He
told us he dreaded a disease of the heart, and
said afterwards that he expected any day she
might be taken from us."
"What caused it?" exclaimed Maude
bitterly. "Who caused it? Mr. Erresford,
you cannot deny he caused it. Her own
husband — for whom she sacrificed every-
thing — he broke her heart !"
" There is no doubt," Cecil said gravely,
" that sorrow and neglect brought on the
disease ; and a life-time will never erase the
terrible thought from Robert's mind. Maude,
when you see him, your anger will vanish, and
pity will occupy its place in your heart."
" I will never pity him !" she exclaimed.
" Had he no will ? Was he a madman that he
must rush blindly on till he caused her death ?
No ! it was voluntary. I pity my father, my-
self, our angel ; but for Robert I have no pity."
" Then, Maude, you do not resemble her,
our sister, who pitied every one, even the
very priest who led her husband away."
LUCY AYLMER. 231
Maude was silent. Her tears flowed fast
beneath the dark folds of her veil.
Cecil led her along through the deserted,
snowy walks, across the valley which lay at
the foot of Castle St. Agnes.
" Unless we copy her holy life, we can
never meet her again," Cecil said slowly.
" Did she leave no message — no last
word for me ?" Maude said, in a voice of
" I know not," he replied ; " her husband
could not speak of her — he may to you. I
went to him on the Monday morning. She
was gone ! He had spoken to no one since
the Sunday afternoon, when she fainted and
died ; and when Dr. Bates came to her,
Robert sat by her side, and only thought she
slept ! Our journey was postponed two days.
Robert passed them alone ; he saw no one
but her child."
Maude sobbed aloud.
" Shall I take you to her motherless boy ?"
" Yes, let me have him — oh ! give him to
me !" she cried.
Cecil led her on, through a httle snow-
232 LUCY AYLMER.
track which skirted the park and a part of
the woods. Gently he handled her grief; his
own was deep. " Our sister — our Lucy !"
How tenderly the words sounded from his
lips ! They soothed Maude as he told how
happy she had been in the thoughts of home —
how good and patient in her sorrow, and
how ardently she loved Robert ! and how, the
last week of her life, Robert had repented,
and loved her with more than his former
" You must love Robert for her sake,"
They were beneath the shade of the Castle,
now ; the snow rested on its projecting mul-
lions and cornices, and the closed shutters
made Maude shudder. The air sighed heavily
from the north over the whitened plains and
drifting hilhsides. One single black crow
winged its way along beneath the grey
clouds. An awful stillness reigned, except
when a hound in the kennel sent forth a
deep-toned howl. Evening's winter shades
fell everywhere, over tree and shrub, over
wall and turret — shades within and shades
LUCY AYLMER. 233
By an impulse, Maude laid her hand on
" Is she here ?" she asked, in low
" Yes, Maude !" he replied.
His hand was on the door ; he opened it,
and stood once more in the old ancestral hall.
The knights in armour looked grim and stiff
against the walls. Cecil led her away. No
parade of servants disturbed and witnessed
her grief — they were alone. He took her
down a silent gallery. She heard a child's
blithe voice in this dreary house of death ; and
on her listening ear, from St Walburga's
tower, where so lately joy-peals had echoed
and mocked the gloomy air, now were wafted
the sounds of the muffled bell.
It was all to Maude as " a dream remem-
bered in a dream ;" she almost doubted if
she were awake. Suddenly a bright, laugh-
ing boy bounded up the passage, and threw
his arms round Cecil's knees. It was her
child — Lucy's own Harry ! Maude stopped,
took him from Cecil, and clasped him in her
arms. The child looked frightened at Maude's
sad, tearful face, and struggled to get free
234 LUCY AYLMER.
from her embrace, and flew to Cecil again.
Cecil carried him down the passage ; Maude
followed. Then he opened a door. A. fire
burnt there ; a figure bent over it, and read
by its flickering light. There were long
shadows on the floor, and the engravings
on the walls looked dull and gloomy. Maude
drew back a step, while little Harry subdued
his childish mirth, and whispered :
"Poor papa !"
" Speak to him," Cecil said ; "he will tell
you of her."
Still Maude hesitated, when Cecil added :
" She would have comforted him."
Maude slowly advanced on the threshold.
Cecil gently closed the door; little Harry's
voice died away in the passage ; and Maude
stood alone with the husband— the destroyer,
as she thought — of her dead sister ! She did
not speak. He moved not, or looked up.
She saw he read by the firelight, and she
thought the book was a Bible. She stood a
moment irresolute whether to speak or to go
away : her good, noble nature triumphed.
She would supply Lucy's place — Maude
would be his comforter ! The task was a
LUCY AYLMER. 235
hard one to her proud spirit, for ever the
words were ringing in her ears, " 'Twas he
who killed her — he broke her heart I"
" Robert !" Maude said, her own voice
terrified her, the walls seemed to echo back
He started, and bent his head down on his
Maude threw aside her bonnet and cloak,
and stood on the hearth-rug before liim, her
beautiful face wild in its sorrow.
" Speak to me, Robert," she cried, '' I am
come, as she would have come, to be a com-
forter to you in this day of our bitter soitow
— speak to me, Robert ; tell me, did she leave
any message for me, not even one pairing
word? my darling, my dear sister !"
" Forgive me, Maude, forgive me, as she
forgave me !" Robert exclaimed, as he sank
on the floor at her feet, and knelt there.
" Rise, Robert, rise !" she replied. " I do
forgive you; even though she is dead, and
I shall never see her more ! Rise, Robert, I
command you ! Oh, I never dreamt to see
this dreadful day !"
He did rise slowly, then said :
236 LUCY AYLMER.
" Her end was peace — she slept and woke
in Heaven ! I have been a great sinner ; but
I hope to follow her there !"
"Tell me, Robert," Maude exclaimed, as
she forced him to resume his seat, and stood
before him, " tell me, are you still a follower
of the Romish religion ?"
"The day she died, it died to me," he
replied, in a hollow voice. " I have come
back, Maude, to her church again. She and
the Bible brought me there !"
" Poor Robert T' Maude said, it was all the
comfort she had to offer. She sat down on a
low seat opposite him in the dim light, and
listened as he spoke to her of Lucy, and told her
treasured words — her holy deeds, her love for
him — for all.
The lamps shone in the long gallery when
Robert's cold hand was placed in Maude's,
and he lead her away to a dark, pannelled
room : a light burnt faintly there, a figure
leant against a high raised drapery of pure
white. It was the Squire, who wept beside
his Lucy's coffin ! Robert stood still, Maude
felt him tremble; she kept his hand, and
brought him side by side with her father.
LUCY AYLMER. 237
"Papa," she said, in a choked voice,
" Lucy forgave him !" She joined their hands
The Squire's tones were stifled ; but it
was the Squire's own good heart which burst
" Bob, I forgive you ! it is no place for
anger here. My poor Uttle flower — she is gone
from me ; but she is better ofl" ! They called
her an angel. I never thought how soon she
was to be one — my poor, bright, faded
flower !" The Squire laid his head on that
white pall and wept.
There was a solemn silence, only the wind
in the corridors spoke in dreary accents of
death. Suddenly Robert said :
" We may not pray for her — there is no
prayer where my Lucy dwells, but for our-
selves — oh, shall we not pray ?"
Maude knelt as he knelt ; the Squire stood
with bowed head ; then the desolate husband
from his soul prayed :
" Oh, Lord ! make us like her, that we may
follow her to glory !"
238 LUCY AYLMER.
Worsted's hills and dales were clad in one
universal robe of white. The hedges wore
festoons of snow, and the ivy on old St.
Walburga's tower drooped in white festoons ;
and over all, the sun shone just twelve days
It was Sunday. The morning service was
ended, and the winter's sun was beginning
to decline, when forth from the church-
yard gates the Vicar of Branstone came white-
robed to meet the funeral of Worsted's fair,
stricken flower; the slow, measured footfall
blended with the sighing of the yew, and the
tones of the muffled bell.
The Squire's comrades in the chase, bore
his young daughter to her earthly rest. Her
own kindred all were there ; even the stern
Lord San^'ford could not withhold the silent
tribute of a tear. His drooping wife, his gay
sister, all were there — a long train of village
maidens, tiny children, and simburnt veterans.
The same crowd who saw her wedding, stood
among the snow-covered graves, and wept at
her funeral ; the bridegroom, the bride-
maidens, father, sister, Cecil — all were there—
the bride alone was not ; for her spirit had
LUCY AYLMER. 239
been called to a heavenh marriage feast, and
the gentle form all had that day delighted to
gaze npon, was laid to rest by the side of her
little one gone before. The church in which
she had loved to worship, threw its shade
over her, and her rest was very peaceful.
The solemn service was read, and the sor-
rowing train dispersed. The Castle, the
Manor, the cottage — all received mourners
into their shelter; and little groups stood
around the new made grave, and spoke of her
virtues and her end. Then the sun set, and
the moon rose and shone in silvery whiteness
over wood and glade — and its beams rested
tenderly on Lucy Aylmer's grave.
240 LUCY AYLMER.
Her memory long will live alone.
In all our hearts as mournful light,
That broods above the fallen sun,
And dwells in heaven half the night.
When the dreary winter had passed, and
harsh winds swept the snow flakes from the
hill-side, Robert Aylmer and his child were
far separated. The vicar of Forsted was sus-
pended for two years ; at the expiration of this
period, his unchanging patron promised his
return to his former living. Till then, Cecil
pressed on him a home at Hatchworth, his
country seat. This offer Robert gravely but
thankfully refused : he would no longer eat the
bread of idleness — his resolve was taken, it
LUCY AYLMER. 241
was a high one — he would begin a new ex-
istence, a working Hfe, and go forth to meet
the future with a manly heart ! with the
memory of the warning past ever before him,
He kissed his motherless child, confided him to
Maude's love ; then went to his self-appointed
duty. On the lonely heights of Northern
Scotland, armed with his Bible, and the
shadow of her love still clinging to him, the
repentant Robert performed the task of tutor
to the spoilt and petted son and heir of the
fretful Lady Damer. It was no Kght toil, but
even as he had been borne with, so now he
bore with others, and in his life he strove to
copy hers, and practice patience and resigna-
tion. Each w^eek he sent letters to Maude,
and in these letters ofttimes came wild moun-
tain flowers, or little pictures for his child.
How Maude loved and idolized the noble
little fellow, and how the Squire made him
the delight of his heart, only themselves
knew. Lucy's boy was all in all to them !
The poor Squire seemed to be getting into
greater difficulties about this time. The heavy
mortgage annually paid to his brother upon
the estate dipped deeply into his already
VOL. III. M
242 LUCY AYLMER.
reduced income. One morning when Maude
asked him for the usual weekly sum for her
household expenses, the Squire made no reply ;
but shortly after he went out mounted on
one of his favourite hunters, and returned late
in the afternoon on foot. Maude's heart was
heavy ; she said not a word ; but when the
moon was shining in the heavens, she
shpped away and entered the stables— no
Swiftfoot neighed in his stall. The first real
sense of poverty fell across Maude's proud
spirit. Unobserved she entered the house
again, and that evening she redoubled her love
and affection towards her father.
The next morning, the Squire put into
Maude's hands the money she required — then
she knew his hunter was really gone.
After this, the Squire received several letters
from his brother, which seemed to perplex and
annoy him, and finally resulted in another
thinning of his stable ; followed by the startHng
announcement to Maude, that he must let the
It was given into an agent's hands, and
sundry strange visitors invaded Maude's home
retreat : curiosity seemed to bring them i no
LUCY AYLMER. 243
real wish to rent the place. Still Maude
hoped on, hoped that her father might yet
keep his Somerset home, and brighter things
Castle St. Agnes was shut and tenantless
again. Cecil had left for Hatchworth immedi-
ately after Lucy's funeral, and Lord De
Walden for the place in Essex, where his proud
mother entertained numberless visitors, and
filled her reception-rooms with the dance and
the song. March found Cecil Erresford and
Lord Sangford at their respective town houses,
prosecuting their Parliamentary duties, though
his lordship's voice and strength wTre some-
what weakened by the effects of a severe cold,
caught at Lucy's funeral, and which clung to
him still. The Easter week he passed at his
estate in Surry, endeavouring to recruit his
strength, w^hile Elora read aloud to her Lord
— endured his murmurs, and tried to please
him and failed — then fell back upon mysteries
after the manner of her married life ; and
doctors' and lawyers' daughters ; the young
ladies of a retired London merchant, and young
ladies of the farms, all envied Lady Sangford
her husband, her house, her equipages, her
244 LUCY AYLMER.
servants, and counted her nods, and took
humble copies of her dress, as they had done
for three years past.
It was from Flora, Cecil first heard of the
Squire's reverses. Stevens, who had come up
to London for a holiday, surprised her late
mistress with accounts of the diminution of
the Squire's stud ; which was quickly followed
by Flora seeing the Manor advertised to be let
for a term of six years. She was not aware
that at the expiration of this time, should the
Squire have been unable to pay off the mort-
gage, the elder brother's estate would pass into
the hands of the younger. Flora who was as
ignorant of all her husband's affairs, as in the
days of their separation, knew nothing of this
unhappy mortgage ; the pain Flora's sensitive,
just mind received, on the discovery that her
husband had indeed induced Sir Edgar to
make him the heir to his vast property, to the
exclusion of the Aylmers, and that he was the
relation, until whose death Archer had left her
to pine away in solitude, would have been
augmented ten-fold, had she know^n how com-
pletely Archer had drawn the Squire into his
power, and for what end.
LUCY AYLMER. 245
Flora could not bear to think that while they
were rollinof in wealth, Robert, the rig^htful
heir to such a vast portion of it, was toiling
arduously to enable him to live. It seemed to
her also cruel and unjust in her husband to
withhold help from his brother. She was
troubled — the lines upon her fair brow in-
creased. She wrote to Cecil begging him to
come down and spend the following Sunday
with her. Cecil came, they walked to church
together in the morning. Flora started early,
and took her brother round their beautifully
kept grounds, and through some fields, where
little lambs were sporting in the sun.
" You have brought me a pretty detour,''
Cecil said, " it is very good of you. Flora."
" I did not come this way for pleasure,"
Flora replied. " I want to talk to you, Cecil.
I ^\\A\ you to tell me candidly if I have acted
rightly towards my brother-in-law. I did it for
the best, yet I tremble lest he should discover
the author, and his pride be wounded."
" Upon my word, Flora, you excite
mv curiositv wonderfullv !" Cecil said
246 LUCY AYLMER.
riora sniilecl, but her smile was forced
and quickly vanished.
"It is nothing laughable, Cecil ; for poor
Phil is in great difficulties."
The expression on Cecil's countenance
changed from one of playfulness to great
" Who is your authority, Flora ?" he
" Stevens told me all about it — my brother-
in-law has sold his hunters. What do you
think of that, Cecil ? He has only one horse
left ?" Mora looked up enquiringly.
" That looks strange," Cecil said musingly,
then after a moment's pause, he observed,
" perhaps grief may have caused him to give
up the chase ; in that case retaining his hunters
would be useless."
" Yes, Cecil ! but then the Manor is adver-
tised to be let for six years. What can it
mean, for Phil is so attached to the place ?"
" It means, Plora, that he is in difficulties.
I see clearly," Cecil said thoughtfully. " I
should not at all be surprised if he has mort-
gaged the estate."
LUCY AYLMER, 247
" Oh, I hope not !" Mora repUed. ^' Well,
Cecil, I wanted to tell you, I sent Phil a sum
I thought would assist him, in secret, mind.
I do so hope he will not find out the
donor. Was I right?" she asked anxiously.
" I am always so afraid of doing wrong."
" Poor old Plora !" Cecil said good-
humouredly, " so you have been playing the
good sister to Phil Neville ! let me hear how
you managed it."
" I forwarded it to him at different times
by post-office orders on Branstone, signed in a
ficticious name, and enclosed Phil a paper in
a disguised hand and a name corresponding."
Flora looked very frightened.
" Well done, Plora !" said Cecil laughing,
" that will save poor Neville his riding
horse. I cannot imagine how you conceived
" I wanted to do some good. I determined
on the day of our dear Lucy's funeral, I
would try to begin, but it is slow work," she
said mournfully. " I have more money than I
know what to do with, and so few really
useful channels for it to flow into."
248 LUCY AYLMER.
" Wish for them and they will appear/'
Cecil said in a kind tone.
" How I wish 1 knew if Phil had really
mortgaged the estate !" Flora said musingly.
" I will not rest until I have tried
to find out," was Cecil's rejoinder..
" 1 wonder what the mortgage would be
worth ?" Flora said.
" That depends on many things — the extent
of the property mortgaged, and the term of
years. And then poor Neville is sure to be
" Good-hearted and generous people are
always made a prey," added Flora.
Just at that moment the church bells
struck up loudly, and emerging from a nar-
row footpath on to the high road, they en-
countered a troop of people wending their
way church- ward. There were bows to be
exchanged, and a few greetings, and finally
the daughters of the retired resident of the
villa made so many kind inquiries after his
lordship's cold, that they lasted all the way
to the church door ; and then the young
ladies entered their pew with their minds so
LUCr AYLMER. 249
filled with her ladyship's handsome brother,
as to lose their places many times in their
velvet-bound prayer-books, and to be quite
at a loss concerning the substance of a very
high-flown sermon delivered by a meagre
curate, who, having fasted through Lent,
wore a dejected and weary appearance, claim-
ing rather pity than either approval or
The afternoon was accompanied by a violent
storm of hail and rain. As Lady Sangford
did not go again to church, she distributed
books among her servants. She fancied it
was what Lucy would have done, had she
been mistress of a large household. Flora
liked to endeavour to imitate Lucy ; she could
not have taken a sweeter example. Ah !
how those words were verified in the sleeping
Lucy, " She being dead, yet speaketh !"
It rained on, and the wind blew cold
around the house, when Flora sat down by
her dressing-room fire. She wanted some-
thing to read, so she took from a locked
drawer a packet of Lucy's letters. Flora
slowly perused them, and wept as she read,
250 LUCY AYLMER.
and formed resolves. One or two passages
particularly called forth both resolve and deep
thought. In one dated "Rome," Lucy, in
reply to a repining letter from Lady Sangford,
wrote : " To be happy, dear Flora, we must
be holy, and to be holy we must love Heaven
better than all the world, better than our-
selves !" There was one very old letter,
written in the early days of their friendship.
The hand was scarcely formed ; a bunch of
dried violets rested between the paper.
" There was a beautiful sunset to-night ;
even the ground looked golden. I stood in
the portico till dusk, until the sun was gone,
and the stars had come, and I fancied I knew
a little what angels felt, only they see within
Heaven, and I had been looking without.
Dear Lady Flora, what a day that will be
when we stand by the angels within, never
more to leave the golden gates." Her last
letter, dated from " Rome " ended with these
words : " Flora, do not pity me ; I hope
on ; and hope ends in a harp and a
Flora laid down the letters, and her face
LUCY AYLMER. f^J
was bathed in tears. " 1 will, will live as
Lucy lived, that I may die as Lucy died,
and mn a crown too," Flora murmured.
She gathered up her precious letters, put
them carefully under lock and key, then sat
reviewing her life past and present. She
found very few bright spots in it. Thus
dreamily occupied, she remained till the fire
became low. The hail pattered against
the windows with a fury that threatened to
beat them in. She felt lonely and desolate,
and went down stairs to join her husband.
He w^as walking up and down the library
with his arms crossed, and his coat buttoned
up to the chin. Occasionally he paused and
looked out of the long windows, and swore
at the verandah for making the room so
dark. Flora looked alarmed, but she w^nt
up to him, and put her hand on his arm.
Archer took no notice of her, but continued
his walk. Cecil, who was sitting by the fire,
rose as Flora came in, and asked her what
she thought of the storm.
Flora's reply was, " Oh ! the weather is
very dismal !"
" What in the name of goodness have
252 LUCY AYLMER.
you been doing with yourself all this time ?"
" Reading and dreaming," Elora repHed,
with a timid smile.
" If you had wanted to go to church again,
you could have had the horses out," Archer
" Oh, yes Archer ! thank you, I know, but
the weather was much too bad."
" I should think, the thermometer must
be below zero, it is freezing to the bone !"
Archer shrugged his shoulders and dropped
Flora's arm. He opened the door, and
looked into the verandah ; " if it clears, we
will take a turn, Erresford."
"Oh, Archer dear!" Flora began, then
stopped suddenly and looked frightened.
" Would you not do wrong in going out ?"
Cecil said, " this cold, damp air is the very
worst thing for your chest, Sangford."
" Tush !" exclaimed Archer, " folly ! nurs-
ing is only for women !" The chill air
blew in from the open door, Flora shivered.
Archer retreated. " There is a break in
the clouds," he said, " these April evenings
often turn out fine."
LUCY AYLMER. 253
" I question for to-night/' Cecil rejoined.
Archer took up the newspaper and lounged
in an easy chair. Flora stood near a window
and indulged in painful thoughts occasioned
bv Archer's couo;h.
Presently Cecil said :
" I am going to run down to Forsted early
this week — can I take any message for
" None, Erresford," repHed Archer, still
occupied with the paper.
'' Oh ! Cecil, you can take that little like-
ness of Lucy I have copied for Phil," Flora
" Phil is trying to let the place, and wisely
too," said Archer. " If he does not try some
other means of living, I do not know what
is to become of him. I have helped him
till I can help him no longer."
Flora looked surprised, and Cecil said :
"What has he done with his yearly in-
come?" at the same time giving Archer a
peculiarly searching look.
" That is best known to himself," was
Archer's short reply.
254 LUCY AYLMER.
" I hope he has not mortgaged the estate,"
" It is what many extravagant men do,"
Archer repHed carelessly.
*' Has he ever hinted at the possibihty of
such a thing?" asked Cecil.
" He talked of it years ago."
" We will hope it ended there," said Cecil.
"It is generally fools who mortgage, and
knaves who entice them into it."
Archer rose, and paced the room again.
" He has only one daughter to think of
now. The best thing he can do is to marry
her to some rich fellow ; and surely the
leavings from his extravagance would keep
Phil, with a little assistance now and
Flora looked proud of her husband.
Cecil looked at him, but not proudly ; there
was contempt mingled with pity in his
"Phil might have made a fine thing
out of that estate," Archer went on. "A
little money laid out on the houses, and
he could have raised the rents to advantage."
LUCY AYLMER. 255
" Oh ! but the people are so poor !" ven-
" Let them work," was Archer's re-
joinder. " Soft landlords get nothing for
their pains. My maxim is, * Charity begins
at home.' "
" My maxim is, ' Love your neighbour as
yourself," Cecil said in a straight -forward
" Ah, my good fellow ! you were born rich ;
you can afford to be sentimental!" Archer
The storm ceased ; there was even a bright
sunset. Archer walked with Cecil till dusk.
Flora remained at home, and cried about
Archer's cough, and thought over their con-
That very evening, the Squire and Maude
walked up and down the path between the
shrubberies, in earnest conversation.
"It is time we should leave, Maude, when
I have presents of charity sent me. You do
not think it can be Erresford ?"
" Certainly not, papa ; the signatures are in
a lady's hand. Besides, Mr. Erresford would
never do so."
256 LUCY AYLMER.
Maude's colour heightened, and her proud
" It must have been intended in kindness ;
but it is a most ill-judged thing !"
" I am certain Archer will keep his word/'
the Squire said. " It was part of the agree-
ment, that no one should know of the mort-
gage. I have got some pride left, and will
never live upon any one's bounty."
" Papa, would it not be almost best,"
Maude said, " to accept that offer you had of
letting the Manor for two years — at the end
of that time you might find another tenant ?"
" Where are we to go, Maude ?" the
Squire asked. " It must be some precious
cheap place, where we can save. If I could
only pay off the mortgage in six years ! It
breaks my heart to think of the old place
going away from you !"
" Oh ! never mind me, papa," replied
Maude. " What do you think of some
German village — we could live upon almost
nothing there ?"
'*Such living as it would be!" grumbled
the Squire. " We should be poisoned by
sour wines and greasy cooking."
LUCY AYLMER. 257
Maude laughed a dreary sort of laugh ;
and just then, when feeling particularly for-
lorn, was it strange that her thoughts flew to
Cecil Erresford ? Why should she think of
him, I wonder ?
" I am glad my poor little flower knew
none of this trouble," the Squire said, turning
his head away. " We did well to keep the
mortgage from her. Maude, it breaks my
heart to think how it would have grieved hers
to see the old home go into other hands, even
though it should be one of our own family
who becomes its master."
Maude sighed, and a tear fell on her black
"We must act in some way, papa," she
" It was a good offer that man made
yesterday — two years. Ah, well ! as you
say, we can get some one else for the other
" We could save immensely by living on
the continent, papa," pleaded Maude. " Per-
haps in two years we could pay off" the
" Ay, and the next four might save the
258 LUCY AYLMER.
land. My poor old cottages must go. Archer
would make a tight landlord to the old
" Perhaps Uncle Archer would extend the
length of time, and so enable you to pay oflF
all, papa," suggested Maude.
" Your uncle is a straighter man than I
took him for. I wrote him several letters on
that very subject, and his answers were not
altogether what I liked. Never mind ! I
have burnt 'em — the best plan with disagree-
ables in black and white."
"I am sure we do not want Uncle Archer's
help," Maude said proudly ; "do we, papa ?"
" Let him keep it if he likes it — let every
fellow do what he pleases with his own.
Archer has saved, and I have been a spend-
thrift ; we both reap the harvest of our sown
oats — mine is a famine, his a land of plenty.
I don't envy him or any man. or hate them
as some folks do, because they are rich."
" That is a mean and vulgar spirit," Maude
said. " You, dear papa, can never accuse
yourself of anything but generosity."
"Heigho!" sighed the Squire. " The last
has been a woeful year. My sweet bird has
LUCY AYLMER. 259
flown where I can never bring her back again
— there will be no one left soon to put flowers
about her grave." The Squire's voice grew
husky, as he said again : " woeful times these
have been !"
Maude's tears fell fast.
The Squire put his arm over her shoulder.
" Never mind, my queen, we will try and
save the home yet."
" Oh, papa ! it is not the ' home ' — it is our
Lucy I mourn for. No troubles were troubles
as long as we had her with us ; now it is all
The Squire groaned, Maude roused herself
and tried to comfort him, but failed. His lost
' bird ' had been his comforter — every one's
comforter — but Lucy was not ; the angels had
come for her ! That night, when every one
thought the Squire slept, he climbed the
church-yard gate, and stood by her grave.
A plain white stone bearing her name and age,
and the simple word ' Peace ' beneath, marked
where she was laid to rest ; he stood there in
the starry night, and wept, and called his
child back, but no voice could answer !
260 LUCY AYLMER.
" The next day the Squire's home was
rented by a stranger.
Cecil did visit Forsted, thinking much of
Maude, and longing to extricate the Squire
from any troubles into which his old habits of
extravagance and love of the turf might have
involved him ; but to his great disappointment,
his bright plans were all damped, by finding
Maude proud and reserved, and her father
very tardy in communicating anything con-
cerning himself and his own affairs. He
assumed an indifferent tone when he spoke of
having let the house, and hoped Cecil would
come on the continent in the summer, and
pay them a visit. Of course, Cecil enquired
where they were going to take up their resi-
dence, and heard, with surprise, that they had
already fixed on the neighboursd of Coblentz,
according to the advice of Captain Prescott,
who had lived there many years on half-pay,
before coming into a property.
Cecil was more then ever convinced that
something had gone unusually wrong with the
Squire, though what that wrong was, baffled
all his ingenuity to discover ; and he returned
LUCY AYLMER. 261
to London dissatisfied, and with his plans and
A fortnight after his visit, the Squire and
Maude called to bid him farewell, before
leaving England. They brought little Harry
Avith them, and at Cecil's request, left him for
the afternoon. It was interesting to see the
care Cecil took of Lucy's child — their visit
to a bazaar, and the carriage full of toys
Harry brought back. It was from the child
Cecil learnt that Stevens was gone, and ' Aunt
Maude ' was his nurse now — this still more
convinced him of their reduced circumstances.
The Squire and Maude remained with Lord
Sangford during the few days they sojoiu-ned
in town. Flora did all she could to ascertain
the state of the Squire's affairs, but he was as
reserved with her as with Cecil, and only said
that Maude and he required change. The
Squire half suspected Mora to be the sender
of the two-hundred pounds, but he hardly
liked to charge her with it, so the money was
lodged at his banker's, ready to be repaid
whenever he should be able to discover the
Archer's health continued to decline. He
262 LUCY AYLMKR.
had worn thinner even in the fortnidit since
he had returned to town. The Squire begged
him to take care of himself, to rest awhile,
and was kind and brotherly as only the
Squire would be to one who returned his
affection so coldly.
" If you get worse, old boy, only send for
me, and I will nurse you. Phil Neville
never forgets, and you have been a kind
brother to me !" were the Squire's words at
parting. Archer's were —
'' You are a great fool to exile yourself,
The Squire wrote often to his brother from
Andernach, their place of abode. Archer
responded seldom. At last, as summer ad-
vanced, Lord Sangford's letters ceased ; then
came one from Plora, relating how Archer
had been brought home half dead one day
from the House, and that he was sinking
fast. Flora's postcript contained the words
It was the first of July when Squire Neville
drove into Belgrave Square, where Lord
Sangford's town house stood. It was a
splendid mansion containing reception-rooms
LUCY AYLMER. 263
that were the talk of the pohte world ; indeed,
the highest compliment that could be paid
to any saloons was to compare them to Lady
Sangford's. Some people have been known
to ask if she enjoyed them ? How could they
make such a remark ? Of course her Ladyship
could not exist without them ! Elegant queen -
like creature !" these were epithets constantly
bestowed on her, and of much envy had she
been the innocent cause. Who envied her
now, when at twelve o'clock that summer's
day, just as the Squire arrived at his brother's
door, the servants closed the shutters of the
splendid mansion. Archer, Lord Sangford,
had passed away into the land where rank,
wealth, and fame follow not.
Lady Sangford was a widow. After four
years of married life, the husband she had
made her idol, and whose slave she had been,
was carried off in the zenith of his power and
ambition ; a neglected cold ended in a rapid
dechne, and death laid him beneath a splendid
monument in England's Abbey. A fellow-
statesman eulos^ized his memorv in the
House, and part of this eulogy figured on his
tomb It proclaimed to the world his virtues
264 LUCY AYLMER.
in public life. He was a friend to his covintry,
a conscientious performer of every duty — com-
manding the respect and esteem of his equals,
the love of his inferiors — then in private life,
the tomb set him up as an example to
husbands, sons and brothers — to masters and
landowners. Was the tomb truth-telling or
exaggerating, is a question, not one of the
gazers at the full length figure looking sternly
down on them, and the lines of carved letters
below, ever paused to enquire.
The simple stone still white and fresh
beneath St. Walburga's shade, bears the one
word " Peace !" Forsted people often come
when their day's hard labour is ended, and
stay awhile, tending and watering the flowers
that grow around that grave. Old Robbins
has transplanted Lucy's favourite white blush
rose from his own cottage garden, and village
maidens have hedged it round with violets
and snowdrops to blossom in the spring ; the
village children never throw stones or tread
carelessly near this spot — they linger reverently
about it ; and one little girl often says her
prayers by the gentle Lucy's grave. Every
rustic villager believes in the truth of " Peace,"
LUCY AYLMER. 265
as applied to her. Her life exemplified it, lier
death sealed it ; and they know there is peace
in her golden home beyond the white summer
clouds ; as sure as they wish to get there, they
know she is at peace. There is no need to
fill up that white stone, by teUing old and
young that she was a good wife, mother,
daughter, sister; they know it — they have
seen her the joy of her husband in days of
smoothness ; and when sorrows came, they
have seen her lighten them, and enduring
patiently, rest when her work was done.
They know her childish laugh was brightest
when her boy was in her arms ; they knew she
was sweet as the lily and the violet to her father
— the pride of her sister. What need to tell them
she was the friend of the poor ? One and all
would stand forth to proclaim it. The ignorant
and sick, as well as the happy and robust,
would all tell you and vie with each other m
declaring it. They were sick, and she visited
them — she rejoiced with those that rejoiced,
and mourned in their time of sorrow ! So
there is no need to raise a proud monument
in memory of the young wife of the Vicar of
Forsted. Her memory lives in the hearts of
VOL. III. N
266 LUCY AYLMER.
those around — she sleeps beneath the fair,
fresh flowers, not beneath the cold stone where
the statesman is laid.
The stately Countess carried her wddowed
daughter away to the estate in Essex, and
among the haunts of her dreary childhood.
Lady Sangford nursed her sorrow : it was of a
bitter kind, intense love without respect —
idolatry without one perfection in the idol.
Such had been her life, and now she refused to
be comforted. The whole of husband's
property was left to his widow, and among
the papers relating to this almost regal
wealth, were recovered the deeds which
mortgaged the Manor.
LUCY AYLMER. 267
" Ce que je desire et que j'aime,
C'est toujours toi, c'est toujours toi.
Pour mon arae le bien supreme,
C'est encore toi, c'est encore toi.
Si j'ai cle beaux jours dans la vie,
All ! c'est par toi,
Et mes larmes qui les essuye ?
C'est encore toi, c'est encore toi."
The path under the hills, leading to
Andernach was golden with sunshine. Wild
flowers grew at its edges, and the fruit trees
lining the roads beyond were tempting, and
produced Eve-like thoughts. The sky overhead
was dazzling in its brightness, and all nature
looked so glad and beautiful, it was enough
to make one sing for joy.
Along this path, on an August evening,
268 LUCY AYLMER.
came. Squire Neville, handsome and sunburnt,
bearing on bis shoulder his sturdy little
grandson brandishing a tiny whip and call-
ing, " gee, wo, horsey" and looking a little
shadow of himself. On went the Squire, and
when he was nearly out of sight, Maude, a
large black straw hat shading her face, came
along the hill-side path, and Cecil Erresford
was by her side. Every now and then she
stopped to cull a floweret, and presently,
rather saucily she answered to something he
had been saying.
" Really, you are made of hope ! Well, it is
a good ingredient in one's composition !"
" It is," replied Cecil, " I have hoped
many things — all are realized save one ; but
I hope on, that this, the dearest hope of my
hopes, may not be hoped in vain."
Maude picked up a pebble, and tossing it
into the flowing river, at her feet, watched it
fall, leaving behind it numberless air circlets
all merging one into the other. " How still
and clear the water is, you might almost
fancy you could see my pebble."
" How thankful it must feel to you for
transporting it from the dusty path to that
LUCr AYLMER. 269
cool bed, no one to trample it under foot — no
wheels to grind it, or crush it ?"
" You speak feelingly, as if you had lived
and known a pebble's life," Maude said.
" I like now and then to imagine myself in
the place of inanimate nature," Cecil re-
" Really, Mr. Erresford, I did not think
you were such a dreamer !"
" It has gradually crept over me since I
have joined you at Andemach. T find it a
" I fear I am totally matter-of-fact. I never
indulge myself thus," Maude sighed.
" You never take ideal flights ? Oh, Miss
Neville, that is ganz und gar unmoglich !
people with your eyes and temperament must
dream. You have far off eyes, and a nature to
throw around you fairy webs of gold."
" You utterly mistake me. I remember only
one day dream;" Maude's eyes overflowed
with tears. " It was that dreadful day when
my darling sister was laid to her rest, and as
I looked at the snow-covered grave, I longed
to die and rest by her side. I shut my eyes,
and in my dream I looked back from the
270 LUCY AYLMER.
shores of the silent land on the mortals I left
" You looked back on unquenchable tears !
That was a cruel dream, which left all behind
you so unmurmuringly."
Maude said softly, '' I had not a thought
but of her, until my eyes fell on my father."
" Ah, he is worth living for l" Cecil ex-
claimed, pulling as he went the flowers form
" Do you not think papa looks brighter,
Mr. Erresford ? I do feel very grateful to you,
for papa tells me, though he loves and adores
her memory every hour of the day with in-
creasing intensity, yet you have taught him,
if she could look down, it would grieve her
tender heart to see him grieve so. He does not
foster sorrow, but tries to be cheerful again
for Harry's sake and mine." Maude looked
very beautiful as she said this, looking up
with her deep, speaking eyes ; a heap of
stones almost crossed their path. Cecil called
it * the hill of difficulties,' and gave Maude
his hand to assist her. '' These stones are
like the roughs of life," he said in a low tone.
" I only wish your roughs might be as easily
LUCY AYLMER. 271
surmounted, and I ever near to help you
Maude sprang down the rest with a bound
as much as to say, " I can help myself !" one
moment retaining only the shade of gravity
in look and manner which she had never lost
since the shock of her sister's sudden death ;
the next, all her proud brilliancy hanging
around her. Cecil thought her perfectly en-
chanting, There was a moment's silence ;
then Cecil said :
" I wish we had my sister Flora here to
sketch the landscape from this point de vue.
Her beautiful artistic taste would produce an
" It really is charming — the lovely flowers
and the noble river flowing beneath us, with
the golden flush over all ; and those peasants
would come in so well in the foreground with
papa and Harry. What a pity you are not
an artist !"
" If I were, lady fair, I should not have
spoiled it by your omission."
" We were the originators ; decidedly we
ought to keep out of our own picture," Maude
said. " I think it was quite a well-judged
272 LUCY AYLMER.
omission. The artist does not usually place
himself in his own group."
" The picture would be sadly incomplete,
were Miss Neville left out. Stay a moment —
voyons /" Cecil took from his pocket a letter,
and, begging the pencil from Maude's watch-
chain, he sketched, on the unwritten side of the
note, a tolerably correct outline of the figures
en avant, Maude and himself in the rear, with
hills and tree clumps in the back ground.
" I opine Flora would form a chef-d'cBuvre
from this," said Cecil. " Her colouring would
come in to perfection."
" You have managed it capitally," replied
Maude laughing, as she looked at the sketch.
" There will be no occasion to number it after
the fashion of a Royal Academy frame — A,
the peasant's cart; B, the driver; C, Harry
en avant, etc."
" I am glad of your favourable opinion ;
for I imagined Harry bore some resemblance
to a plant, species unknown."
" One of the Kohlruhen tribe," Maude
added. " His hat certainly is ambiguous."
Maude lifted her head from the sketch. " But
the original has passed away from sight.
LUCY AYLMER. 273
Mr. Erresford, they have rounded that hilly
curve, I suppose."
" N'importe, they have left us to the sweets
of solitude/' replied Cecil.
"*0h! solitude, where are thy charms?'"
said Maude. " I cannot imagine how any
one can chaunt its praises. I am entirely a gre-
" Oh ! Miss Neville, you would not detract
from solitude, were you a dreamer !"
" I prefer reality to dreams — I never was
of an imaginative temperament. I can enjoy
scenery, and carry its delights away in my
memory ; but I cannot poetize ou it. Of
course, you versify occasionally ?"
" Quelquefois ! I have been in a poetic
frame the last few days. At some future
time I shall ask you to be my critic."
" Mind, I am a severe one," Maude replied.
" Oh ! stay just one moment ! what a lovely
bed of flowers ?"
Erresford sprang up the bank, singing, as
he culled the bright blossoms, the sixth of
Mendelsohn's two-part songs, which Maude
had taught him. Maude took up the
274 LUCY AYLMER.
words, and the air rang with their clear
*' Oh ! what a heavenly spot this is !"
she exclaimed, as Cecil came down the
bank, and placed a bunch of flowers in her
" It is verily and truly a golden hour in a
golden day," replied Cecil. ''But surely
there must be ' forget-me-nots ' somewhere
in this moist spot; our song is incomplete
without them. ' Verglss-mein-nicht und
Ehren-preiss und veilchen sind dabei.' Ah !
I see a blue nook of them on the water's edge !"
" Papa has been picking some for Harry,"
said Maude. " There are footmarks."
"The flowers are nearly past and over
now," remarked Cecil; "nevertheless, there
are some for us."
Maude's proud eyes rested on the sky-
reflecting waters, as Cecil broke off" the tiny
flowerets. When he brought them to her, he
said in an earnest tone :
"If I were to improvise on the spot,
would you bear with me patiently and
LUCY ATLMER. 275
"That depends," Maude replied, "on
the rhyme, and the metre, and a thousand
other things. Still I grant permission.
Maude fastened her " forget-me-nots " in
the brooch of her shawl, and looked far away
in the distance, while Cecil indulged his
" ' Fo-get-me-not !' 'tis the voice of flowers,
Telling of swiftly-fleeting hours,
When the sun like a glory fell
O'er mountain path, o'er lowland dell.
"' Forget-me-not !' 'tis the carol of birds,
A music fit for sweetest words.
Which asks for friendship's richest boon,
Lest mem'ry fade, and pass too soon.
" ' Forget-me-not !' 'tis the soft breeze's sigh,
As gentle hearts are passing by.
And gives the soul the tender thought.
Which makes all else appear as nought.
" ' Forget-me-not !' in your true, noble heart.
Oh ! could I claim the humblest part !
I then would in elysium rest.
With peace and joy for ever blest.
276 LUCY AYLMER.
" ' Forget-me-not !' and ray voice I'll raise.
In glowing strains of fondest praise,
While songs of happiness and love,
Eorget not ! echo from above."
There was a hushed stiUiiess when the
thrilUng accents of Cecil's voice ceased to fall
on the breezy air. It might have been only
the sunlight playing over Maude's face, that
it wore such a glow — a glow which shone
even from her large, speaking eyes ; or was it
from the heart within that this sunnner-glow
came ? Who could tell ? She gazed on at
the mountains shading far off with the clouds
and sky, and thus uniting the earth and the
Heavens, and her ruby- coloured lips were un-
parted. Thus she w^alked on, her hands
hanging down full of flowers — a very Flora,
"herself the queen of flowers. And silently
the companion at her side trod the uneven,
sloping path, until they came to a sucklen
bend crossed by a little stream, over which
a piece of wood was laid. Maude stood still
here, and looked around.
" We must turn back up the mountain
here," Cecil said ; and he held out his hand
LUCY AYLMER. 277
to assist her over the rough bridge, but she
sprang hghtly over unaided, and went on,
with her head erect, and the hght bending
over her. She started when Cecil's voice
again broke the stilhiess. " Maude !" he
said, in a deep, earnest tone.
She turned her face round, and her proud
expression was strangely softened.
" May it be ?" he asked, in a low voice.
" Will you become the ' forget-me-not,' and
ever bloom on my life's path ?"
She paused a moment ; then stooping
down, and raising one of the flowers from its
lowly bed near the mountain stream, placed
it in his hand. Her lips quivered : she
was too proud to trust herself to speak.
He pressed the flower to his lips, then
"Maude, I must tell you the early
thouo;hts of mv heart. It is due to you
that you should hear them, ere you answer
me. Maude, I have loved before !"
She kept her head erect, her eyes cast
down, her lips unparted ; and he went on, in
a low, whispering tone :
*' Yes, Maude ! the day we first met my
278 LUCY AYLMER.
heart was filled with a joy I never felt before.
And yet Maude, it was not for you."
Maude raised her head, and her bright,
dark eyes glanced on him.
" It was she our flower — our sweet lily !
Who could see her, and not love her !
It is past and long gone by now, and is
supplanted by another and deeper feeling
which nought on earth can eradicate. You
do not reject me because I loved her first,
Maude, loved one?" he said in a thrilling
*' I only wonder," she replied in a low voice,
" how you can care for me after her. Mr.
Erresford, we were in every way different ; you,
who studied her, knew well what she was — so
patient, so enduring, and you must have seen
how self-willed and head-strong I am."
"You shall be self-willed if you please, to
counterbalance the noble candom- and entire
unselfishness, that stand every chance of con-
verting my love into idolatry."
She smiled mournfully as she said, " Take
care you do not spoil me. I am not proof
against it, as she was."
" Maude !" Cecil said suddenly, resting his
LUCY ATLMER. 279
hand on hers, and drawing her attention to a
sun-tipped cloud, dark below, above one blaze
of purple and crimson, and encircled at the
edges like a glory.
" Ah, it is beautiful !" she said, " almost
beyond beauty." Then lifting up her eyes
with a trembling archness, " You will read me
some good lesson from its brilliancy."
" Not a lesson, but a truth. That cloud is
hke our life, if we look only earthward. It was,
nay still is dark, for we can never call our
angel sister back; but look above, how it
shines even as she shines in heaven ! Let us,
sweet Maude, shine on earth so as to meet her
there, when the day breaks and the shadows
Maade's tears flowed fast down her cheeks.
Cecil kept a moment's silence : they both
thought, even in the day of their love, of her
who would have rejoiced over it.
The Squire and Harry had taken their
ramble and arrived at the house, which formed
their temporary home, while the sun was
yet shining in the sky, but it had sunk to
Cecil and Maude returned, her hands
280 LUCY AYLMER.
full of flowers, her hair damp with the
evening dew, beautiful Maude ! She brushed
past her father, who stood at the entrance, and
ran up-stairs to her own room, and wept sore,
even in the midst of her joy, that her Lucy
was not there to share it !
As Cecil walked to and fro the sloping
garden, when the evening hour blended with
the calm of night, the light in her casement
shone on him like a star : but he knew not
that his loved ' Forget-me-not' knelt long and
silently, and asked that she too might be
good and noble, and deserve to share the
love, the honour, that were everywhere
showered on him ; and that in his proud self-
willed Maude, might be found all that made
her sister, his first love, so lovely and holy.
That dark winter had been followed by
strange events. First came Archer's pre-
mature death, which, though it had been a
blow to the Squire, still the little attachment
there had ever been on the part of the
younger brother, had softened his loss to the
elder. Then, just as the Squire was making
up his mind to endure a continental exile,
for purposes of economy. Flora, by cancelling
LUCY AYLMER. 2S1
the mortgage, and destroying the deeds,
restored the Manor into his hands — the
Manor, his old ancestral home, the scene of
his hfe's joys and of its greatest sorrows, was
his once more. No more heavy mortgage — no
more fears that it might not descend to
Maude. The Squire's heart was lightened,
and when he returned to Andernach wdth
Cecil Erresiord as his companion, he could
do nothing but anticipate Maude's delight
when she knew^ that there was nothing to
prevent the old Manor becoming, at the end
of the tw^o years, their home again. The
Squire, too, had had the satisfaction of re-
storing to Flora the money that had been
so strangely sent him, and of w'hich he had
discovered that she was the donor.
Cecil had been with them a week, ere he
took that delicious w^alk w4th Maude ; and
told to her already predisposed heart the
thoughts which had so long occupied his.
The Squire rejoiced in his future son-in-
law. His ow^n words on the subject were :
"A king could not have pleased him better."
And that very evening the Squire talked of
the time when he should return to his
282 LUCY AYLMER.
home, and vowed that nothing should again
lead him into those habits which had so
nearly forfeited it.
Mora's sorrow on finding the deeds of
mortgage w^as great, but her first act after
her husband's death was to destroy them,
and so place beyond possibility the Manor
ever falling into her hands. Ah, poor Flora !
the ill-gotten property was a burden to her.
bhe wished she could make restitution to
Robert Aylmer and his sister of Sir Edgar
Tyrrell's wealth. But how to do so seemed
difficult ; it was so interwoven and entangled
with other wealth. But one load was taken
off her mind when she knew the Squire's
home was really his own again, unincumbered
and free from all fear of hereafter losing it.
Mora offered her brother-in-law the use of
her country estate, until the present tenants
of the Manor should leave. She said it would
be a pleasure to her to know that he had a
comfortable English home ; and that Maude
and Harry need no longer remain far away
from all who loved them. Tlie offer was
made with such real sincerity, that the Squire,
seeing the satisfaction it would give Flora,
LUCY AYLMER. 283
felt he could not refuse, and returned to
Andernach, accompanied by Cecil, to fetch
Maude and Harry away. Cecil longed
ardently that Maude would consent to be-
come his bride at early season, nor did the
Squire offer any objection. Maude, how-
ever, resisted all Cecil's in treaties. AYhen
she had seen her father once more settled
in the old manorial house, when she had
seen Robert reinstated in the Vicarage, and
her trust of Lucy's child should be over, then
Maude would be Cecil's bride. Noble
Maude ! Cecil admired her doubly for this,
and patiently he waited and longed for tb^
day to come, when Lucy's loved sister sliould
be his own loved wife.
284 LUCY AYLMER.
" The kind heart speaks with words so kindly sweet.
That kindred hearts the catching tones repeat.
And love therewith, his soft sigh gently blending,
It is the last day of the week. The day's
labour done, the cottager rests at his door-
step, while children play around his knee.
The corn is safely housed in the barns ; the
cattle slumber in their sheds ; the birds nes-
tle their heads beneath their wings ; flies
dance about ; and the shadows of the sunset
play around. The air is still and balmy, and
Forsted St. Agnes looks very peaceful.
The Vicarage looks very peaceful too. The
doors stand open, and the perfume of the
hony suckle embowering the verandah is
LUCY AYLMER. 28 5
wafted into the little, low-ceilinged drawing-
room, where the last sunbeam plays on a
picture. It is a face young and fair, and it
rests on cloudlets — oh, it is very sweet ! Is
it meant for an angel, I wonder ? Who
stands before it, with figure tall and slight,
young still, but on whose brow lines are
marked, and among whose thick brown hair
streaks of grey are plentifully mingled, and
whose eyes are full of resigned sorrow ? He
calls towards him a noble, bright-eyed boy,
and lifts him up to the picture in the clouds,
with the softly uttered words, " Kiss mamma,
Harry !" and the child's rosy lips press the
still, spirit-like face, and the child's innocent
voice lisps : " Good-night, dear mamma,"
and then he is carried on his father's shoul-
der to his little snow-white bed; and he
kneels at his father's knee and repeats bis
simple prayer, and its burden is, that he
may be "a good boy and meet mamma in
Heaven." And then his father leaves him
after his evening's kiss and blessing, with
his fond nurse, Stevens, who united to her
faithful John, now forms part of Robert's
286 LUCY AYLMER.
Solitary the Vicar of Forsted stands by
his Lucy's picture, and gazes long, and oh !
how sadly ! until tears fall fast and silently.
Then he hurries them away, and goes
forth into the village, and looks in at the
cottage homes of those his Lucy loved
best. When the evening light was fading, he
sat beneath a tree in a sweet garden,
where a brook sang beneath a rustic bridge,
and sweet-willliams and pansies flowered,
and talked of Sunday to a group of
children, talked of Sunday on earth, and
the one everlasting Sabbath in Heaven. Then
he taught them a hymn ere they parted for the
night, and the father of the children stood
by with his hat off, and his fine honest English
face all reverent attention, as Robert led on
the young voices, who repeated, after him, the
words ' Oh that will be joyful, when we meet
to part no more ! and echo from the hill-tops
rising up among the stars, gives back the
words : " Part no more !'
Then the vicar rose and shook hands
with the labourer, and bade ' God bless him
and his !' and as his feet trod the path to
the Vicarage, and his eyes looked whither
LUCY AYLMER. 2S7
his heart ever wandered, to Lucy's home —
echo and the children's sweet voices repeated :
' It will be joyful when we meet to part no
more !' Sing on, young hearts, take up the
strain, deep echo, reiterate it from the lonely
hill — send comfort to the lonely -hearted man.
No more parting ! Again and again let the
strain waken up his joy and soothe his sorrow
— and tell him — oh children ! tell him, oh
echo ! of the time when there shall be no more
goings out, no more comings in ! ' Oh, that
will be joyful !'
This was the second day of Robert's return.
The third was Sunday — a never to be forgotten
one in the annals of Forsted, when the young
vicar made his recantation sermon. He preached
of repentance — humble w^as the confession he
made of his errors, humble his hopes of future
good and usefulness. The Squire in his pew
could scarce refrain from an exclamation of
" Well said, Bob !" Maude bent down her
head. She recalled all who had been in that
church the last time he preached.
Cecil looked not at the past, but the dawn
of a bright future. Harry wondered why
his papa's voice grew so low at the end of
288 LUCY AYLMER.
the sermon; and why at its condusion, he cried,
yes, Harry was sure ' papa was crying '/ The
child wondered and looked until Lady Anne's
beautiful organ played the congregation out
with the ' Hallelujah Chorus.' But the con-
gregation seemed loth to go, and stood about
the porch, and among the grave-stones of the
churchyard. Those who had been Robert's
staunchest opposers some years back, waited
till he appeared among them, to tender hearty
expressions of allegiance and promise of hold-
ing by him in opposition to any one else ; and
had it not been Sunday, probably three
cheers would have rent the air to welcome the
return of the Vicar, and the Squire of Forsted
St. Agnes, but these were reserved for another
occasion. The Squire and his Maude came
back to the Manor a week before Robert's
arrival at the Vicarage. How the Squire
luxuriated in his former haunts, the famihar
voices of his old friends, the hearty welcome
of the villagers ! and Maude was happy in the
knowledge that she had done her duty to her
father and Lucy's child.
It was surprising how soon after their
return to Worsted, every one fell into his old
LUCY AYLMER. 289
occupations. A few days saw the Squire on
Dyke Moor, riding after the hounds. He could
trust himself safely at the hunt now ; he had
learned a lesson on betting which he never
would forget. But the Squire's intense love of
the chase was diminished, a taste for farming
seemed to be superseding it ; he amused
Maude by attending the weekly cattle market
at Arminster, and sending home some oxen
and sheep, for whose reception he hurdled off
a great piece of pasture land, at the end of
his property, hitherto suffered to run to waste ;
and every morning the Squire donned a white
hat, and went out to inspect his live stock.
Maude superintended her housekeeping as of
old, took daily rides with Cecil Erresford, and
visited her old cottage friends. Augusta
Neville, who had been staying about mth her
numerous acquaintances, came to the Manor,
and asked the Squire to receive her as his
housekeeper ; the fair Augusta, at last, dis-
gusted with all her matrimonial schemes, had
determined on settling quietly down as an old
maid. Since the Squire's absence from Porsted
she had been twice engaged, first to Count
Arlais, who left her to marry a dressmaker,
VOL. III. o
290 LUCr AYLMER.
and then to Sir Joseph Paiilfield's son, whom
she heartily despised, even while she accepted
him, and who mortified one day by her cold-
ness, went off in a sudden freak to Australia ;
so Augusta protested there her love affairs
should end. The Squire said it was " very
jolly" of her to come and take care of him in
his old age ; and in a very short time, the belle
of manjna London circle settled down into the
Squire's country companion — entered into his
farming plans, and even rode to Arminster
with him on market days, waiting at the
house of a friend while he made his purchases.
Robert Aylmer was settled quietly too : he
worked hard in his parish to atone for his
former neglect, taught in his schools, gave
cottage lectures, took care of his little Harry ;
and every night, before he returned home
from his labours, he paused awhile by his
Lucy's grave. The young Earl who found the
air of Worsted not sufficiently bracing for his
weak nerves, had taken up his abode with his
mother, in Essex, where Elora is his kind and
loving companion, though how long that will
last, seems difficult to determine, as Lord
Glendowan has lately found Wood Hall an
LUCY AYLMER. 291
extremely agreeable abode, and walking and
driving with Flora, an extremely agreeable
recreation ; and the long conversations they
hold together in sohtary nooks of the grounds,
are a great source of interest to the young Earl,
who wonders what they can have to say. At
times, he chose to join in these conversations,
which embarrassed my Lord and the Lady
Flora ; so the Countess has given herself up to
amuse her invalid son, and plays the part of
an amiable mother better than one could have
expected, considering how late in Hfe she has
commenced it. However, we will use the
homely proverb, and say, "Better late than
Poor Lady Anne is never spoken of in the
Countess's presence now. A very short time
after Lord Sangford's death, she devoted her-
self and all her property to the forming a
sisterhood on an extensive scale, in the north
of England, where she steadfastly refuses to
see any of her relations.
It was June when the Squire returned
home : but it was not until September, that
the talk of the village was Maude's coming
wedding. It was to be extremely quiet, to
292 LUCY AYLMER.
remind them as little as possible of Lucy's.
Elora presented Maude with a beautiful
trousseau, and the Countess gave her a set of
splendid jewels. Her ladyship approved of
her son's choice ; indeed, in her old age she
seemed completely changed, and appeared to
like everything, but the bustle and gaiety of a
London life, which used to form her chief
delight, but which now she found tiresome
and stupid. The Countess certainly would
have liked her son's wedding to have been
celebrated with some show and festivity ; but
when she saw that still all hearts mourned for
Lucy, and no one liked to revive the remem-
brance of her wedding-day, and how they all
desired to spare Robert's feelings, as much as
possible — she refrained from her wishes and
suggestions, and ended by saying she had no
doubt it would be elegant and pretty.
It was on a bright September morning,
when the sun shone over leaves of red and
gold, and an autumn wind blew little snowy
clouds about the sky, that Forsted church
doors were opened, and Forsted church-yard
was filled with villagers. Cecil Erresford,
with his brother as groomsman, walked
LUCr AYLMER. 293
through their midst, speaking kind words as
Shortly after, the Countess and Flora,
escorted by Lord Glendowan, made their ap-
pearance, quietly but elegantly dressed, and
took their places by the chancel, where
Augusta Neville joined them. Then the
Squire brought the bride in her handsome
white dress and long veil. Very close by her
side stood Lucy's child, looking wonderingly
up at her face, while his father, pale and
agitated, read the service, and united his
Lucy's sister to his own beloved friend. His
voice just remained steady to the end of the
service, and as Cecil and Maude waited for
him to pass out of the chancel gates, Cecil
pressed his hand in token of thanks and
There were flowers thrown for Maude, and
bells rung, and Maude looked very happy.
The Countess had sent an elegant little break-
fast from the Castle, at which the bride and
bridegroom were present, and then they went
away for their little tour. An old shoe was
thrown after them by the servants, and bless-
ings went after them from the poor, who had
294 LUCY AYLMER.
all a good dinner sent to their cottages that
day, as there was to be no gathering till Mr.
Erresford could be present to make it merry.
Robert took a long walk over the hills that
afternoon, and did not return till late in the
evening. None knew where he went ; they
supposed to some quiet spot to hide the
grief called forth by the remembrance of his
own happy wedding day.
Flora sent all over the village, and saw
that every one had good cheer ; and many of
the villagers said they hoped to hear the bells
ring for her very soon, at which Flora
coloured, and was glad Lord Glendowan was
not within hearing.
It was strange that she neither considered
him old nor eccentric now. On the contrary,
she painted a likeness of him during his
absence, and thought what a nice picture he
made ; and every day she found fresh talents
and good qualities in him ; and as to his
Lordship, he adored Flora as he had ever done ;
though he did not venture to declare anything
Maude and Cecil were only away one fort-
night. They were anxious to be at the Castle
LUCY AYLMER. 295
before the weather was too cold to give the
vUlagers a grand out-of-doors entertainment.
The bells merrily rang them back on Saturday
evening; and, on the Sunday morning, Cecil
and his bride were quietly ensconced in the
Castle pew, joining fervently in the Hundredth
Psalm, and listening attentively to one of
Robert's simple but expressive sermons. The
service over, they invited themselves to return
and dine with Robert. They began their
married life by thinking of others, instead of
foolishly forgetting everyone else but them-
selves. Yet no one seeing Maude caring for
little Harry, and Cecil conversing cheerfully
with Robert, would have thought them un-
mindful of each other. Oh no ! in her frank
tones and his pleasant voice, there were love
and tenderness. Robert had established an
evening service in old St. Walburga ; and, as
Cecil and Maude walked home together in the
moonlight, after wishing good night to Robert,
Maude said :
" Cecil, I am so exquisitely happy ! I only
wish our poor Lucy's Robert could be glad
once more 1"
" He can never feel as we do, dear Maude ;
296 LUCY AYLMER.
his day for any excess of earthly joy has long
past away ; but living, as he does, under
the shadow of a heavenly love, he will not
" He is so good," rejoined Maude. " He
almost equals her npw. Oh ! if she could
only see him ! I never thought he could be
what he is."
" He treads the path our sister trod,
Maude, and he is happier thus, even with
his grey hairs and weight of grief, than many
a man who lives a life of ease, and has not
" Yes," replied Maude, in a subdued tone ;
"because he is secure of his home. Poor
dear Robert! his sorrows are deep; but he
has no anxiety about meeting her again : that
must be. I would rather be Robert as he
now is, than live as poor Uncle Archer did,
with all his riches and power."
Maude looked up at Cecil, and her dark
eyes were full of truth and earnestness.
Cecil pressed the hand which rested on his
arm so confidingly, closer, as he said softly :
" Precious Maude ! I would rather be my-
self now, than any one in the universe 1"
LUCY AYLMER. 297
" Oil, flattering husband !" she exclaimed in
her old saucy tones.
Cecil laughed ; then presently Maude
" Well, I do think the world is all going
right, everything is smooth now."
" Smooth as the sky above us," Cecil re-
" Oh, Cecil !" Maude said suddenly, " I
heard something so strange to-day. I only
hope it will not reach Robert's ears, to revive
the remembrance of his past sorrows ; but
Captain Prescott told me this morning as we
were coming out of church, that he learnt
from his niece who is en pension at Anne's
sisterhood, that Father Anastasio is installed
there as confessor to the poor creatures. Do
you not pity them?"
'' Heartily !" replied Cecil sighing. " I ob-
tained some information, also, the other day
about poor Mostyn. Do you recollect him ?"
" Oh, perfectly," replied Maude. " What
has become of him ?"
" Shortly after Robert left Rome, Father
Anastasio alarmed, I suppose, at the escape
of one of his victims, sent poor Hubert a
298 LUCY A.YLMER.
missionary to an Indian settlement, where he
died a year after. The news of his death has
only just reached England, and one of the
Ackington brotherhood, whom I met acciden-
tally on the platform of the station, told me
the sad account."
" How kind Lucy was to Mostyn !" Maude
observed. " I should never have been half so
good as she was."
" May you never have to try a similar ex-
hibition of goodness," Cecil replied, as they
passed through the park gates.
" I hope we shall reside principally here,"
said Maude, " it is so much more delightful
than any other spot."
" We shall always be attracted here," Cecil
replied, " and except during the parliamen-
tary season, I dare say this will generally be
" Home, sweet home ! there is no place like
home," murmured Maude, " no place like
home, and no country like England, is there,
" And no spot like that where Maude is,"
he replied playfully.
" I suppose I must return the compliment,
LTJCY AYLMER. 299
since I can do it sincerely/* Maude said
laughing; and thus they talked on till they
reached the Castle.
There was just one bright, glorious day
left that autumn, and on that, fell the village
feast. The weather was so warm and lovely
that there was no need of tents, and well
crowded was the park with the neighbouring
poor of all ages. Every pastime Cecil could
devise, amused them ; a plentiful supply of
good cheer regaled them ; while every possible
kindness met them, and yet, though the feast
was given in Cecil's honour, he ever strove to
put his brother forward, as the rightful pos-
sessor, and make the people look to the earl,
and not to himself, as their landowner. Mer-
rily sounded the voices of the happy villagers,
as noble ladies waited on them, and noble gen-
tlemen thought of their happiness. The feast
was of long duration ; but when it was over,
the children dispersed to pleasant games end-
ing by the boys running races in sacks, which
amusement was planned by the Squire, who
was active in stowing the boys into the sacks,
and supplying sixpences for the victors.
Shouts of laughter accompanied these perfor-
mances, and every one found a source of
300 LUCY AYLMER.
amusement in contemplating the droll hop-
pings and tumblings of the rustic competitors.
But at length the festival was over, and
before parting, " God save the Queen" was
sung and a hynm, and then good-nights were
exchanged. But still no one moved, and all
eyes were directed towards a very old man,
the father of the flock, who being short of
stature, was busily employed in mounting a
table. When arrived at this post of eleva-
tion, he begged to be heard ; and strange was
the speech which the patriarch of Torsted de-
livered to the ears of his audience polite and
" Ladies and gemmen !" he began, " I be
an old man ; I be seen nigh the end of my
days ; but old though I be and poor of speech,
yet I could not leave this place without put-
ting forth a humble word and thanks to the
ladies and gemmen for their greatness and
goodness this day. I be seen twenty years
come and twenty years go these four times ;
Dut never mortal day like this day, when,
after gloomy like times, right comes right
again, and the Squire and Vicar comes back to
their own ; and Mr, Erresford, God bless him.
a million times ! takes our young lady as his
LUCY AYLMER. 301
lady — may we, my lads and companions, ever
live worthy of our Squire, our Pa'son, and of
Mr. Erresford and his lady, and my Lord De
Walden ; may we ever be true to 'em all, and
thankful for the favours all their lives spread
on us. May we all be good church-going
folks — good fathers and mothers — brothers and
sisters, with such examples as we have set
before us ; and if any one on us goes wrong,
just go and look at that ere little grave yon-
der, and think how Miss Lucy lived, and how
Miss Lucy died, and let's try to do likewise !
May we ever keep sober, honest, industrious,
and do our duty by our masters and ourselves,
and hold by the Pa'son as long as he lives.
Now, my lads, who'll join old Bill Robbins in
three cheers for the Pa'son and Master HaiTy,
and may those never have a happy day who
don't ! Now my lads and lasses, hip, hip !"
Then burst on the air such hurrahs as
almost deafened those who heard them.
" Now, my lads and lasses," shouted the
indefatigable old orator, " three good cheers
for the Squire ; long life to him !"
Loud shouts again arose, women and chil-
dren not one whit behind the men in making
their voices heard.
302 LUCY AYLMER.
" Now," vociferated old Bill, " more good
loud uns for Mr. Cecil and Miss Maude, and
bless 'em both to their dying day !''
Again shouting followed, and when it
seemed about to die away, shouts were called
forth for Lady Mora, " the poor man's friend,"
and the Earl, and Countess.
"And," added Bill, " for all on 'em!
Now another for the Pa'son come home
And when these ceased, the bells from St.
Walburga took up the sound, and pealed mer-
rily forth ; and from the tower high waved the
flag on its tall staff.
" 'Pon my w^ord," whispered the Squire to
Maude, " it's affecting !"
But Robert silently despatched a boy to
stop the bells, and presently himself addressed
the audience. His voice faltered as he thanked
them all for their kindness in thus welcoming
home one who so cruelly deserted them ; but,
with God's blessing, he promised for the future
to be true to them, and work w4th his every
energy so long as life was spared him — " and
may we all unite in promoting unity, peace,
and concord among us," he continued, " and
by this means be true to ourselves, our Queen,
LUCY ATLMER. 303
our church — and whatever betides, and what-
ever aggressions the enemies of our faith make,
may we be true to a man, to our Bible, and
pray God never to take it from us, but pre-
serve us good soldiers and servants to Him, to
our lives' end !"
A silence succeeded Robert's earnest ad-
dress ; then Cecil spoke a few words to the
people, and when he ceased, the Squire ex-
claimed in his merry voice :
" I am no speech-maker, so all I can do is
to wish you, one and all, long life and happi-
ness, and thank you for your hearty good
feeling towards me and mine."
Then taking up in his arms his little grand-
son, who was standing close by his side, he
held him high above his head, saying,
*• Wave your cap at them, httle Phil, and
show them what a man you are !"
The child's fair cheeks glowed ; and taking
oflP his little straw hat, he waved it round and
round, and imitating the general fits of cheer-
ing, called out in his manly Httle voice:
" Hurra, hurra !"
A loud burst of enthusiasm followed this
for Lucy's child; and when the Squire at
length set Harry down, old St. Walburga's
304 LUCY AYLMER.
bells again rose and fell on the ear, nor ever
stopped until the whole assembly had trooped
away into the shadowy village to their quiet,
happy homes. The noble guests dispersed also,
Flora and Lord Glendowan wandering toge-
ther across the park ; and this time their
earnest conversation was of plans for Robert
and his sister Mildred, who with her husband
and family, was shortly expected to arrive in
The young Vicar of Worsted, when all was
over, slid away and prayed by Lucy's grave ;
his brow was ever sad, but in his prayer he
said there was " Peace." And Peace spread
her wings over Porsted, and the stars kept
watch o'er Lucy's grave and the flowers that
grew around it; and there was happiness at
last in the quiet village, even though its
fairest flower had passed away to the land
where there is everlasting rest.
Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.
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